A pair of left-handers heading in opposite directions take the mound Thursday night in the finale of a three-game series at Fenway Park.
Lester went 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA in his first nine starts but is 0-2 with a 6.05 ERA in the last three. He allowed four runs and walked four in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-1 loss at Yankee Stadium on Friday.
“Bad pitches, behind in the count, not having command of the baseball. The list goes on,” said Lester, who has yielded 23 hits and walked eight over 19 1-3 innings in the last three outings.
Lester (6-2, 3.53 ERA) is 0-2 with an 8.55 ERA in his last four starts against the Rangers (36-22). He gave up three runs on two homers, walked three and struck out seven over six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 4-3 loss in Texas on May 5.
Holland went 4-0 with a 2.31 ERA in six starts last month, starting May 3 when he allowed six hits and struck out nine in eight innings of a 7-0 victory over Boston (36-24).
Since Holland (5-2, 2.81) allowed four runs in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-1 loss in his first start against Boston on June 6, 2009, he is 5-0 with a 1.73 ERA against the Red Sox. He’s yielded a two-run homer and five other hits over 14 innings to win his last two at Fenway.
The only earned run Holland allowed through 13 2-3 innings while winning his last two starts overall came across seven frames of a 7-2 victory over Kansas City on Friday.
“He’s certainly pitching well. He was outstanding again,” manager Ron Washington said. “Once again, he stayed out of the fat part of the plate, and off the fat part of the bat for the most part.
“If Yu Darvish wasn’t on the staff we have right now, I guess you’d say Derek would probably be the ace.”
A night after losing 17-5, Texas got a tiebreaking, two-run double from Elvis Andrus in the seventh inning of a 3-2 win Wednesday. Mired in a 1-for-18 slump, Andrus had two hits to help the Rangers secure their best record through 58 games.
“It was a huge win for us,” Andrus said. “We’re really good at trying to turn the page and be ready for the next game. That’s the way we’ve had success so far the last couple of years.”
Andrus was 2 for 26 with 10 strikeouts in his first eight games at Fenway but is hitting .410 with eight RBIs in his last 10 there. However, he’s 5 for 22 (.227) against Lester.
The Red Sox produced a season-high 19 hits in the series opener but were held to five while their three-game winning streak was snapped.
Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia homered Wednesday and is batting .368 with three home runs and 18 RBIs while hitting safely in 25 of his last 27 games. He’s 2 for 17 with a homer against Holland.
Texas first baseman Mitch Moreland could miss this game after he left Wednesday with tightness in his hamstring. He’s 9 for 18 with two homers against the Red Sox in 2013, taking Lester deep last month.