In the midst of perhaps their biggest offensive series of the season, the Red Sox will go for a three-game sweep and their eighth straight win against Texas when they host the struggling Rangers on Thursday.
With help from Texas’ poor pitching, Boston has scored 27 runs in the first two games of this series.
After outlasting the Rangers for a wild 19-17 win on Tuesday, the Red Sox (70-51) ripped six doubles in an 8-4 victory on Wednesday. Kevin Youkilis had three of them, improving to 5-for-9 with two home runs, five runs scored and seven RBIs in the series.
“He comes to play hard. He come up with big hits,” first baseman Sean Casey said of Youkilis. “The energy he brings, you can’t measure it.”
Boston hasn’t scored 27 runs in any three-game series this season, with its only higher-scoring set coming when it scored 30 runs in four games against Texas from April 18-21.
The Red Sox have averaged more than nine runs over the course of their seven-game winning streak against the Rangers, which dates back to July 2007.
Texas (61-60) is still tops in the majors with 688 runs, but its bats haven’t done enough to counteract dismal starting pitching against the Red Sox. After Scott Feldman allowed 10 runs in the first inning on Tuesday, Luis Mendoza gave up eight runs in four-plus innings Wednesday.
“You take a young pitching staff and put it up against the Boston Red Sox, and they are a team that knows how to make you work and knows how to take advantage of mistakes,” Rangers manager Ron Washington told his team’s official Web site. “That’s what’s happening right now.”
The Rangers have lost six of their last seven games, suffering perhaps a fatal blow to their already slim postseason hopes.
Tommy Hunter (0-1, 10.61 ERA) doesn’t seem like the best candidate to reverse the trend, as the right-hander makes his third major league start Thursday after struggling in the first two.
In home outings against Toronto and the New York Yankees this month, Hunter has allowed 11 runs and 16 hits in 9 1-3 innings, with opponents hitting .348 against him.
Opposing hitters are batting just .206 against Daisuke Matsuzaka, meanwhile, and the right-hander has been particularly good lately. He’s 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA in his last eight starts, allowing two or fewer runs in seven of those outings.
Matsuzaka (13-2, 2.90) is coming off his longest outing of the season, as he gave up four hits and a run in eight innings of a 6-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.
“He’s been great,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said of Matsuzaka. “Now he’s confident. He’s attacking the zone. It makes it a lot easier for us behind him.”
Matsuzaka has been far from great against Texas, but he’s beaten them the only two times he has faced them. In 10 1-3 innings in the two starts, he allowed eight runs and 12 hits, but the Red Sox have scored in double digits in both games.
Both teams are likely to be missing some offense Thursday. Boston placed third baseman Mike Lowell on the 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique muscle, while Texas’ Josh Hamilton left Wednesday’s game and headed home to his wife, who gave birth to the couple’s third child.
The Red Sox have won nine of 12 overall and are seeking their first four-game winning streak since a seven-game run from May 17-22. They’ve also won five straight at Fenway Park to improve to 42-16 there.
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