Red Sox Facing Surprise Contender in Texas

by

July 20, 2009

Red Sox Facing Surprise Contender in Texas Coming off a series loss in Toronto, the Red Sox aim to right the ship in Texas. They'll face a worthy opponent in the Rangers, who sit at 49-41, just three games back of the Angels for the lead in the American League West.

John Smoltz will make his fifth start for the Red Sox, while Kevin Millwood will be on the hill for the Rangers.

When and Where
8:05 p.m., July 20, 2009
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Arlington, Texas

Records
Red Sox (55-36, 1st place in AL East)
Rangers (49-41, 2nd place in AL West)

Skinny
The Red Sox dropped their second series in the month of July over the weekend, losing two of three to the fourth-place Blue Jays. The Rangers, meanwhile, salvaged a win in extra innings on Sunday after dropping the first two games of a series at home against Minnesota.When the Sox hosted the Rangers in early June, Texas won two of three games. The one Sox' win was largely due to Jon Lester's complete-game two-hitter.

Starting Lineups

Red Sox Rangers
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Ian Kinsler, 2B
Dustin Pedroia,. 2B Michael Young, 3B
Kevin Youkilis, 1B Josh Hamilton, RF
David Ortiz, DH Andruw Jones, DH
Jason Bay, LF Hank Blalock, 1B
J.D. Drew, RF Marlon Byrd, CF
Mike Lowell, 3B David Murphy, LF
Jason Varitek, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Jed Lowrie, SS Elvis Andrus, SS

Pitching Matchups
John Smoltz (1-2, 5.40 ERA) vs. Kevin Millwood (8-7 3.46 ERA)
Smoltz is coming off a brief yet effective outing against the Kansas City Royals in which he allowed just one run in five innings.Smoltz's pitch count ran to 97 in his five innings, yet it was enough to earn his first win in a Red Sox uniform.

Millwood is just one win shy of tying his total from last season, when he went 9-10 with a 5.07 ERA for Texas. He has lost his last two starts, giving up four runs in six innings against Seattle and allowing nine runs on five innings against the Angels.

Stat Sheet
Red Sox
After accounting for 33 percent of the Red Sox' hits on Sunday with a 2-for-4 performance, Dustin Pedroia leads the team with a .305 average.

Kevin Youkilis, who also went 2-for-4 on Sunday, appears to be out of his slump. He is riding a modest five-game hitting streak, which includes two two-hit games and one three-hit game.

After missing the first two games of the weekend series, Jacoby Ellsbury went 0-for-4 on Sunday, dropping his average to .343. His 40 stolen bases put him second in the AL to Carl Crawford's 46.

In 201 total chances this season, Boston left fielders have yet to make an error. In center, Ellsbury has committed one, while Rocco Baldelli and J.D. Drew have combined to make three errors in right field.

In 69 games behind the plate, Jason Varitek has not allowed a passed ball.

With his inning of relief on Sunday, Manny Delcarmen had his ninth scoreless outing in his last 10 appearances. That streak stretches across 6 2/3 innings in which Delcarmen has posted a 2.70 ERA while registering one win and three holds.

By pitching seven innings on Sunday, Lester joined Josh Beckett as the team leader in innings pitched with 121.

Lester also owns the best strikeout-per-nine-innings ratio on the team with 10.19.

Rangers
Rookie shortstop Elvis Andrus has the worst fielding percentage of all regular starters at .970. He's made 12 errors. Behind him, veteran Omar Vizquel has yet to make an error in 20 games at shortstop, seven games at third base and three games at second base.

Millwood, with a 3.46 ERA, owns the best mark among Rangers starting pitchers.Scott Feldman is second with a 3.87 ERA.

Despite missing time in May and June, closer Frank Francisco has recorded 15 saves in 17 chances. While he was out, C.J. Wilson recorded seven saves in nine chances. Wilson also has eight saves, putting him third on the team behind Jason Jennings (9) and Darren O'Day (11).

Michael Young leads the Rangers with a .306 batting average.

The Home Run Derby didn't slow down Nelson Cruz, who belted his 23rd homer of the year Saturday against Minnesota.

Black and Blue
Red Sox
The injury list got much shorter after Mike Lowell and Jed Lowrie were activated over the weekend. Jeff Bailey is still on the disabled list with an ankle injury, while Daisuke Matsuzaka is working on strengthening his arm in Florida.

Rangers
Pitcher Brandon McCarthy was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 8. He is recovering from a stress fracture in his shoulder and has begun throwing. In 11 starts this year, McCarthy went 5-2 with a 4.92 ERA.

Nelson Cruz was scratched from the lineup on Sunday with a small fracture in his finger.

This Date in Red Sox History
Nomar Garciaparra
, in the first game of a doubleheader in Baltimore, goes 3-for-5, raising his average to .403. In the nightcap, however, the shortstop goes 0-for-5. His average never eclipses the .400 mark again and he finishes the season with a .373 average, which is best in the AL and tied with Larry Walker for best in the majors.

Overheard
"He just settled in and he kind of cruised. He's got great stuff and the deeper into the game he gets the better he gets. That's why he's the best."
–Dustin Pedroia, after Sunday's loss, on Roy Halladay

Press Box
Red Sox
The Red Sox have had their problems in the leadoff spot.

Despite all the buzz, it could be a quiet trade deadline for the Red Sox.

Rangers
The Dallas Morning News thinks the Red Sox won the World Series last year.

Texas could be targeting pitching at this year's deadline.

Ian Kinsler hit a walk-off home run in the 12th inning on Sunday.

MLB
Mike Mussina
is the last Yankee to have beaten the Red Sox.

Has Halladay pitched his final game for the Blue Jays?

The London Free Press writes that Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi should be fired.

Outlook
Neither team has gotten off to the start it wanted in the second half. The Red Sox watched their division lead slip to just one game over the Yankees, while the Rangers dropped 1 1/2 games farther back from the Angels. Smoltz has shown signs that he can be an effective addition to the rotation, though he's yet to record a quality start. With Millwood coming off a pair of unimpressive outings, this game could be won and lost by the bullpens.

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