It looks like Gonzalez will have even more protection in the lineup Wednesday night.
David Ortiz(notes) is expected to return to the middle of the order as the Red Sox continue their series with the Rangers, who hope to find Josh Beckett(notes) as hittable as he’s usually been when facing Texas.
With 17 players landing on the disabled list at least once this season, injuries have played a big role for Boston.
The Red Sox (78-50) have been able to trudge forward, but they’d been struggling at the plate heading into Arlington. Boston had averaged 3.7 runs while dropping five of nine as Ellsbury, Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis(notes) missed time, and was held to four singles in Monday’s 4-0 series-opening loss.
Ellsbury returned from a back contusion Tuesday, and he and Gonzalez made sure the Red Sox wouldn’t be blanked again. Ellsbury led off the first inning with a single and scored on Gonzalez’s two-run homer, one of the slugging first baseman’s two long balls in an 11-5 win that pulled Boston back into a tie with the Yankees for the AL East lead.
Gonzalez had gone deep only once in 155 at-bats over his previous 39 games
“I wasn’t hitting as many home runs, but I wasn’t worried about it,” said Gonzalez, who leads the majors with a .346 batting average. “I was getting on base. The main thing is we’re winning.”
Youkilis (back stiffness) won’t be back until early September, but Ortiz is ready after missing nine games with right heel bursitis. Manager Terry Francona said after Tuesday’s win the slugger - who was 13 for 26 in his last seven games before getting hurt - will be in the lineup Wednesday.
Ortiz has 11 homers in his last 24 games in Arlington.
The Red Sox might need to score in bunches if Beckett (10-5, 2.46 ERA) pitches like he typically has versus Texas (74-56). The right-hander is 1-2 with a 6.37 in his last six starts against the Rangers.
Mitch Moreland(notes), Michael Young(notes) and Josh Hamilton(notes) all took him deep the last time he faced Texas, when he allowed six runs over five innings of a 10-9, 11-inning road loss Aug. 13, 2010.
Hamilton is 6 for 12 with two homers off Beckett.
After surrendering five runs over five innings in an Aug. 13 loss at Seattle - his first non-quality start since the All-Star break - Beckett fared better Thursday at Kansas City, giving up three runs over seven innings of a 4-3 victory.
That’s more than the Rangers can say about Matt Harrison(notes) (10-8, 3.28) recently. The left-hander gave up six runs over 5 1-3 innings Aug. 14 at Oakland, then surrendered four runs in 4 1-3 Friday against the White Sox, though Texas battled back to win both times.
“I don’t feel like I did my job tonight,” Harrison said after facing Chicago. “It’s definitely frustrating coming off my last outing.”
Perhaps returning home will help. Harrison is 4-0 with a 2.16 ERA in his last six starts at Rangers Ballpark.
Harrison held the Red Sox to one run over seven innings, tying a career high with eight strikeouts, in a 5-1 win April 3. Ortiz is 3 for 7 against Harrison, but Gonzalez, Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia(notes) are a combined 1 for 14.