The weekend series against the Rays was a progress stopper. After sweeping the Royals last week, the Red Sox lost 3-of-4 in Fenway to drop seven games behind the Yankees and Rays in the division. The upcoming week presents another chance to string together some wins, and that starts with the Rangers in Fenway Park.
6/10 Chris Sale vs. Mike Minor (L) 7:10 pm NESN
6/11 TBD vs. Ariel Jurado (R) 7:10 pm NESN
6/12 Rick Porcello vs. Lance Lynn (R) 7:10 pm NESN
Chris Sale threw a three-hit, 12 strikeout shut out in his last start in Kansas City. However, Sale has actually had most of his struggles at home this season. The left-handed pitcher has a 4.45 ERA in 28 1/3 innings at Fenway, compared to just a 3.49 ERA on the road. In contrast, both Rick Porcello and David Price has far superior numbers at home than on the road. If there was any pitcher of the three to bank on to turn their home form around it would be Sale.
Mike Minor is demonstrating the talent that we all knew he had this season. The veteran left-hander has his career derailed by injuries but has fought hard to get himself back on track. This season he has a career-best 2.55 ERA as a starter, striking out 87 in 81 1/3 innings. He has been slightly been more vulnerable on the road, with a 3.00 ERA, and a .310 wOBA.
The Rangers will be using two pitchers in this series who have served time both out of the rotation and the bullpen. Ariel Jurado has also been extremely good this season, both as a starter and a reliever. As a starter, he has a 3.57 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings. Adrian Sampson has been less impressive as a starter, with a 4.93 ERA, but has struck out 34 in 38 1/3 innings.
On the road, this season the Rangers have generally hit well. They rank in the top-10/15 of most road statistics. They have not had it all their own way, in fact, they rank second last in the majors in strikeouts on the road, with a 27.5 K%. Their road record is also pretty poor when it comes to results, as they sit just 10-18. This series should present plenty of opportunities for the Red Sox pitchers to rack up the K’s.
The Red Sox are coming off a series in which they averaged just 2.25 runs per game. It is going to be extremely hard to win games scoring that few runs, especially when they did not have to face one of the Rays best pitchers in Charlie Morton. However, the Rays do rank best in the majors when it comes to ERA. The Rangers? They rank seventh, allowing nearly two runs more per nine innings pitched.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Pitching: The Red Sox will be hoping Sale can continue his good form from last time out. They will also be looking for Porcello and Price to continue their good home form this season. However, question marks remain around the other starter in this series and their bullpen. Depth in starting pitching will likely be important later in the season, and they need their bullpen to hold its own if they are to close the gap and push for this division.
Hitting: You know you have had a bad series at the plate when Jackie Bradley Jr. is the only hitter to clear the fences. The positive is that the Red Sox really need something from JBJ’s bat, but there are more issues in that stat than positives, The Rangers rotation can be got at, and that is just the type of staff the Red Sox need to face right now.
The Red Sox season just rolls from frustration to frustration. Every time it looks as though they are building some momentum, it gets ripped away with a poor series. That is the case once again after this Rays series. The Red Sox are 34-32 and hovering seven games off the division lead.
There is still a lot of time to go. We have only just clicked through the 62-game mark, leaving over 100 games. In the grand scheme of things a seven game deficit when you consider that is nothing. However, the Rangers are a middle of the pack team. If the Red Sox want to be viewed as more than a middle of a pack team they need to send the Rangers packing with a series defeat.