Sunday MLB Preview – Rangers at Red Sox

The series finale possesses a great pitching matchup on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Texas Rangers at Boston Red Sox

Texas missed out on having an opportunity to possibly sweep the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, dropping a 3-2 decision in 11 innings last night.  “That was a well-played game,” third baseman Michael Young said.  The club is 5-9 in July (-1,360) and has lost 10 of the last 16 games beginning on June 29.  The Rangers total is also 5-9 O/U this month, with the team averaging just 4.1 runs over the past seven games.  Texas is 8-16 versus AL East clubs this season, dropping six of the last eight.  Ironically enough, the team is 3-9 on the road against the East clubs, with all wins coming at Fenway Park.  The Rangers have dropped 11 of 14 road games against the division since September 5, 2009.  Offensively, outfielder Josh Hamilton remains hot in going 12-for-27 (.444) in his last seven games and is hitting an MLB-best .429 in 40 games since June 1.  During his hot streak, the Rangers lead the Majors with a 13-5 record away from Arlington.

Rangers starting pitcher C.J. Wilson is 7-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 18 starts this season, with the club alternating wins and losses in his last four.  He managed to last just 4.2 innings in his last start, allowing three runs and three hits while walking five in a 4-1 home loss to the Baltimore Orioles.  Wilson is 1-3 with a 3.05 ERA in seven road starts, managing to give up just two long balls in 44.1 innings.  He ranks fourth in the AL with a .210 opponents batting average this season, including a .180 mark over his last seven starts.  In 13 career games (one start) against the Red Sox, he carries a 1-1 record and 1.56 ERA and three saves.  He is winless on the road since a victory against Boston here at Fenway Park on April 22, a span of five starts.

Boston produced a walk off victory last night thanks to first baseman Kevin Youkilis’ sacrifice fly in the 11th inning.  “He (Youkilis) is just something else,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.  “This guy constantly rises to the occasion.”  The victory gave the club only its third win in 10 games and snapped a three-game home losing streak.  Playing daytime baseball hasn’t been a winning venture for the Red Sox, posting an 8-13 mark this year (-870) and just three games over .500 in the last three years (-1,120).  At 30-19 overall at Fenway Park, Boston is fourth in the AL at home behind the Tigers, Yankees and today’s opponent.

Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester is 11-3 with a 2.78 ERA in 18 starts, allowing just 87 hits in 120 innings.  The left-hander comes in with a three-game winning streak, giving up just four earned runs and 14 hits in 22 innings of work.  He is a solid 6-1 with a 2.77 ERA in nine home starts, managing to strike out 56 batters and walking 22 in 61.2 frames.  Lester will be making his first start against the Rangers in 2010, after going 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA in two starts last season.  In his last start at Fenway Park against Texas, he tossed a complete game two-hitter on June 6, 2009.  The Red Sox have won his last four starts against the Rangers.

Bettors must keep in mind that the Rangers are a terrible 10-18 against winning ball clubs this season (-1,180), with the total being 13-13-2 O/U in those games.  The Red Sox bring in a respectable 17-12 mark against left-handed starters (+280), which may be the difference in this contest.

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