The Boston Red Sox haven’t had much success in Texas in the past, but this year’s Rangers appear to be no match for them.
The Red Sox try to improve upon the best record in the majors and go for their first three-game sweep at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington when the teams wrap up their series on Sunday.
Boston entered this weekend with a 25-35 record at Texas since Rangers Ballpark opened in 1994. That was the worst record for the Red Sox at any AL park in that span.
However, Boston (33-15) has taken advantage of a weak Rangers (18-31) pitching staff to win the first two games of this series, scoring 17 runs with 18 hits, collecting 16 walks and a .405 on-base percentage.
Manny Ramirez went 4-for-4 on Saturday night, including a triple during a five-run sixth inning en route to a 7-4 victory. Red Sox batters collected nine walks in the contest - the fifth time they’ve done so this season.
Ramirez is 8-for-12 in his last three games and his batting average has improved 84 points in May to .272.
“Manny really looks like he’s in a groove,” Boston third baseman Mike Lowell said. “When he’s stinging the baseball like that, when he’s going up the middle, that’s when he’s the most dangerous.”
Now, the Red Sox have a chance for their first three-game sweep at Rangers Ballpark, and their first at Texas since Aug. 20-22, 1973, at Arlington Stadium.
Saturday’s win improved Boston to 26-0 when scoring five runs or more - an ominous sign for a Rangers club which has allowed at least that many 30 times this season, including in each contest during their current four-game losing streak.
Despite the struggles, rookie manager Ron Washington said he still believes in his pitching staff.
“We’re going to stay the course because we believe these guys are going to improve,” he said. “We’re not going to give up on them. I believe in these guys and they believe in themselves.”
The pitching outlook may not be any better for Texas with Kameron Loe (1-4, 6.38 ERA) on the mound in the series finale. Loe, who began the season in the bullpen but was pressed into starting duty with Kevin Millwood and Jamey Wright on the disabled list, has lost four straight decisions over his last six starts while allowing at least five runs in all but one of those outings.
The right-hander gave up five runs and eight hits - including two homers to reigning AL MVP Justin Morneau - in six innings of Tuesday’s 7-1 loss to Minnesota.
Loe pitched his only career complete game at Boston on May 12, 2006, in a rain-shortened game. He gave up five hits in five innings as Texas won 6-0.
Julian Tavarez (3-4, 5.27), who has given Boston solid efforts recently out of the fifth spot in its rotation, will get the start. He’s 3-2 with a 3.77 ERA and .222 opponent batting average over his last five outings.
Pitching on his 34th birthday Tuesday, the right-hander limited the New York Yankees to two runs over 5 2-3 innings of Boston’s 7-3 victory.
“Over and over, he’s given us quality starts, and that’s key with this ballclub,” Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek said.
Tavarez lost at Texas in his season debut April 7, when he allowed four runs, six hits and five walks as the Red Sox fell 8-4.
Texas’ Sammy Sosa went 1-for-3 Saturday with his second double of the series, but remained at 598 career home runs - two shy of becoming the fifth player all-time to hit 600. He is 5-for-18 (.278) with one homer in his career against Tavarez.