We are just two games into the 2011 MLB season and the reigning American League champions are showing us just how they got there last year. Many believed the Red Sox would crush the Rangers in this opening season series after acquiring Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez during the offseason – and I even believed that the Rangers would probably only win game – but that has simply not been the case.
The Rangers won the season opener and then crushed the Red Sox last night 12-5 with Colby Lewis on the mound. It was Adrian Beltre, a player that the Red Sox were unable to keep on their team for this year, that handed the biggest blow to Boston by hitting a Grand Slam for the Rangers in the fourth inning, which ultimately caused starting pitcher John Lackey to be taken out of the game and which came after Boston intentionally walked Josh Hamilton and loaded the bases.
Aside from Beltre, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz as did Yorvit Torrealba. Both Kinsler and Cruz have hit home runs for both games this season and Kinsler’s home runs have each come from the lead off hit giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead early on. This makes Kinsler the first ever Major League ball player to have ever hit lead off homers in both of the first two games of the MLB season. The question is now, though, can he do it again today? Can Cruz also hit another home run? I’m thinking it’s very possible.
Looking at the Rangers, they have been solid this season so far by defeating the Red Sox in both of their first two games of the season and getting 21 runs off 25 hits including seven home runs. In April 2009, the Rangers had 29 runs in a three-game series sweep against Cleveland. They need just eight more runs in this third game against the Red Sox today to match that.
Looking at the Red Sox, coming into the season, they were weighing heavily on their pitching. Experts say that as long as pitching is adequate, they are serious contenders this year. What’s happened to that? While the Red Sox have been trying, they haven’t been seeing success. Aside from that, where are all these awesome sluggers that we know? Like Carl Crawford? The offense needs to pick up as well not just the pitching staff or Boston is going to be in some trouble this season.
The Rangers will bring in Matt Harrison who earned a starting position this spring. In 2010, 31 out of 37 of his appearances were pitching from the bullpen. He was 3-2 last year with an ERA of 4.71. In 78 innings, he struck out 46 while walking 39 and allowing 45 runs on 80 hits. His Major League appearances haven’t been the greatest in the past but he has shown this spring that he has certainly improved. With an earned run average of 3.91, Harrison struck out 14 and walked 11 while allowing 11 runs on 19 hits over 23 innings. Look at these stats, it doesn’t look like he has improved much but if you were to have watched his performances each game, you’d see the difference. Let’s hope he can pull through for the Rangers today and get an opening season sweep along with the stellar offense that the lineup will provide.
The Red Sox will counter with Clay Buchholz. In 2010, Buchholz finished the season 17-7 with an ERA of 2.33. He struck out 120 batters and walked 67 while allowing 55 runs on 142 hits over the course of 173 innings. This spring over 22 innings, his ERA is 3.43 and he struck out 15 and walked seven while allowing 15 runs on 22 hits.
It’s going to be a tough game with the Red Sox not wanting to lose all three games in this three-game opening season series especially when they haven’t been dealt an opening three-game sweep since 1996 when they were stomped on in Texas 25-7. On the other hand, the Rangers are going to look to open their season at home with a sweep, which will give them motivation as they head into the three-game series at home against the Seattle Mariners starting Monday.
Sound off in the comments below with your predictions for this afternoon’s game. I’m going 7-5 Rangers…I’m putting faith in my boys today for yet another win.