Mar 31, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers pitching coachMike Maddux
and catcherJ.P. Arencibia
(7) talk with starting pitcherTanner Scheppers
during the fourth inning of an opening day baseball game against Texas Rangers at Global Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Boston, Mass – The Texas Rangers start a three game series tonight at historic Fenway Park against the 2014 World Series Champions Boston Red Sox where Tanner Scheppers will face off against John Lackey. Normally one would instantly think this game would be heavily favored toward the defending World Series champs, but this series has every bit of the drama as it should.
Rangers have their number: No team in baseball has had a better record against the Red Sox than the Texas Rangers. Since 2009 the Texas Rangers have a record of 29 and 14 against the Red Sox. The last time the Red Sox won a 3-game series against the Rangers was June of last year at Fenway Park. Both teams are off to a sluggish start, it would appear the Red Sox might be a bit more sluggish with their current record of 2-4, they were recently swept by the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend. The Rangers also lost their weekend series, so both teams will be looking to bounce back. My guess here is the Red Sox are better positioned to win the series, mainly because they do have have as many injuries as the Rangers. But, the Rangers have had their number in since ’09 so it is easy to say the Rangers could walk into Fenway and earn the sweep.
Redemption time: Tanner Scheppers had an awful outing during his debut as a starting pitcher. Nothing was going right for him that day, he was throwing a lot of balls, getting behind in the count early and when he did get something over the plate it left the yard. Unfortunately for Scheppers that day he started the sky high club. He ended the day with an ERA of 15.75. He only recorded 2 strike out and at least he only allowed 2 walks. But those walks did come back to bit him later. After the game he said he was trying to do too much, especially when it came to pitch location. He backed off the style of game he was used to and is now focused on doing that tonight.
I guess if you want, you can chalk it up to Opening day jitters, maybe the wind, or a tight strike zone, but what ever the case, Scheppers needs to preform tonight. Ron Washington gave him a chance to be a starter, if he gives up 8 or more hits and 7 or more runs tonight against the Red Sox, the Rangers might have to consider if he deserves another start. If you know Ron Washington, he’d almost be guaranteed another start. Washington likes to show faith and confidence in his players, but sometimes, he has a higher power to answer to, such as Jon Daniels.
Bullpen status: The Rangers bullpen has shown times of weakness so far, Opening day was one of them. For the most part it has remained very solid. Yesterday Alexi Ogando started to get the Rangers in a jam, but Neal Cotts managed to record the last strike out to keep the inning scoreless. This was big for Cotts since he gave up 2-run on Saturday. The New Texas Ranger closer Joakim Soria has also been solid. He worked a nice 1-2-3 9th on Sunday help avoid the sweet in Tampa. While the bullpen has seemed solid so far, the Red Sox will be a true test. Alexi Ogando, and Pedro Figueroa will need to continue to improve. Both have had decent last outings, but either one can have a bad inning real quick. Luckily, Seth Rosin and Shawn Tolleson have been pretty solid and it looks like Joakim Soria will be a good closer this year.
Offense set to explode: The Texas Rangers offense started off on Opening day red hot. Almost hot enough to beat Cliff Lee even though Scheppers and the rest of the Rangers pitchers were far from decent that day. But since then, the most runs they have posted has been 4.
It was looking like last night’s game could have been another classic 0-1 loss for Yu Darvish until Elvis Andrus went the distant with a 2-run blast. Don’t expect that again tonight. Sometimes Elvis will catch lightening in a bottle, but it’s not often. At least when Andrus does hit one, it matters. Of the 19 home runs Andrus has hit, 8 have put the Rangers ahead and one has tied the game.
Prince Fielder is due to break out something this season. He is currently batting .167 with only 1 RBI. He’s hit a lot of fly balls and several ground outs so far. Fielder should have an excellent chance to record his first home run during this series. If you thought the 325 feet fence at Globe Life Park was short, then the 302 feet at Fenway is child’s play for Fielder. In my opinion I think he’ll get one this series.