GAME 4: American League Division leaders tangle in the
Stars at night will indeed be big and bright in Texas where the Rangers host the Boston Red Sox this weekend in a clash of American League division leaders. There will be a lot of gals from Dallas on hand showing off their new big hairdos and the men from Ft. Worth will get their Wrangler jeans creased just right for the big event.
Sunday's Game 3
By: Willie Bee
The nightmare on Ballpark Way continues for the Boston Red Sox who head into their finale at the Texas Rangers in danger of being swept for the first time this season. If they are going to avoid Texas' brooms, the victory will have to come as underdogs in what shapes up to be an outstanding duel on the mound.
Sunday's Game 3 pits Boston's Jon Lester against Yu Darvish of the Rangers, and Texas backers will have to lay $1.50 worth of chalk. The 8 run total carries about a quarter tax to the low side according to the latest MLB live odds at SBR.
Texas is in position for the sweep following a 5-1 decision in Game 2 that saw Alexi Ogando and a trio of relievers quiet Boston bats for a second straight day. Saturday's triumph came on the heels of Derek Holland's work in a 7-0 blanking Friday to get the series underway. Boston has now dropped 12 of its last 17 on this diamond, scoring a grand total of seven runs during the last five games here.
Those offensive woes aren't likely to change given how strong Darvish has begun his 2013 campaign. He's won his last three outings and all three starts at home, and opposing hitters are having a tough time getting their bats on his offerings. Darvish leads all major league pitchers with 58 strikeouts in less than 39 innings, a rate that works out to close to 300 if the second year hurler gets in 200 innings this year.
Darvish has faced the Sox just one time, an ugly showing at Fenway Park last season (6.2 IP, 6 ER), and his ERA at Rangers Ballpark in 2013 is more than twice his road mark.
Boston began the schedule 5-0 with Lester on the mound before suffering a loss this past Tuesday in Toronto where the southpaw allowed six runs (5 earned) in six frames. He lost both starts vs. the Rangers in 2012, and was banged around the last time he pitched in Texas (5.1 IP, 5 ER).
Brian Knight (4-3 O/U) works the plate Sunday when it should be a nice day in Arlington. The afternoon high is predicted to be 72º under a bright sun.
I'm going to roll the dice a bit Sunday with Texas on the run line for my play. The final contest of a 4-game set between the Orioles and Angels is also part of our free pick and preview package.
My pick: Rangers -1.5 (+150) at 5Dimes
Saturday's Game 2
By: Willie Bee
The hits just kept on coming Friday night for the Texas Rangers, 18 of them to be exact in a 7-0 whitewashing of the Boston Red Sox. Texas can now secure the series win when the teams go at it once again under the lights on Saturday.
Game 2 of this weekend set gets underway a little past 8 PM (ET) with John Lackey on the hill for the visitors opposite Alexi Ogando. Boston +135, Texas -145 started the betting on the MLB odds overnight boards, and those numbers still exist at 5Dimes on the morning lines. Baseball bettors are looking at a game total of 9 or 9.5, depending where they step up to the window.
The Rangers broke open a 1-0 game with a 5-run fourth, all of the scoring coming with two outs and Adrian Beltre's 3-run double the big blow. While Texas was busy stroking 15 singles to go with three doubles, Derek Holland was silencing a Boston lineup that ranks third in the AL averaging 5.10 runs per game.
Texas native Lackey is facing his second straight team from the Lone Star State and will no doubt see a tougher lineup than the one the Houston Astros sent up against him on Sunday. The biggest difference tonight than either the Astros or the Blue Jays, who Lackey met in his season debut, will be more patience by Rangers hitters.
We have to remember that Lackey is making just his third start in more than two years, and first off this rubber since Sept. 2009.
Ogando had yet to reach the big leagues when Lackey last pitched in Arlington, and the Dominican could easily be 5-1 at this point with a little help from his offense and defense. He got in three scoreless appearances against Boston as a reliever in 2012, and the Sox tagged him four times with the long ball in 2011, Ogando's only start in this clash.
Another clear and breezy evening is on tap with the thermometer in the upper-60s at first pitch and a12-15 mph wind from the north (out to right). Crew chief Gerry Davis is set for plate duty and brings a level 19-19-2 totals record over his past 40 games into this tilt.
Both lineups have the ability to spoil an UNDER on their own, but I'm going to get behind the pitchers anyway with a free play on that side of the total. Skip over to coverage of the Orioles-Angels series that SBR is following this weekend.
Friday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
Why, the hosts are so hospitable, they've even arranged for some New England spring-like weather for their visitors. More on that later.
What very well could be an AL playoff preview gets underway Friday night (8 PM), and the plan is to preview and provide free picks for all three games between Red Sox and Rangers.
Texas is small home chalk for Game 1 with moneylines in the low-to-mid -120s scattered across SBR's live MLB odds page. Two potent offenses are behind the 9.5 run total that most baseball betting outlets have priced to the low side.
For Texas, this series concludes an all-Sox homestand that saw the squad drop two of three earlier this week to the Chicago White Sox. The Rangers won eight of their first 10 at home before losing Wednesday and Thursday to the Pale Hose, and they'll begin the weekend with a 1.5-game lead in the American League West over the Oakland A's.
Boston is wrapping up a 6-game road trip after taking two of three in Toronto. Off to one of the best starts in franchise history, Boston has won seven of its last eight to go up by 2.5 games over the New York Yankees in the American League East.
Southpaws Set Series In Motion
Three pretty good pitching matchups are on the series slate, beginning with a pair of lefthanders Friday when Felix Doubront goes for Boston opposite Derek Holland.
Doubront was steady, though certainly not spectacular in four April assignments. Still, the end result is Boston won all four outings, the first two on the road where the club went 9-5 in his 14 away starts last year. One of the five losses came here in Texas where the Rangers torched the young Venezuelan (5 IP, 6 ER).
Holland has pitched much better than his 1-2 record would indicate, but has been a bit unfortunate in not getting much offensive support along the way. He beat the Red Sox twice last season with a combined 3.07 ERA and 14 K's in a little less than 15 frames.
Wins In Texas Rare For Red Sox
The home team has the advantage in this series over the past 20 years since Rangers Ballpark opened in 1994. The overall series is almost dead level, but Texas has a distinct advantage on this diamond (49-36) just as the Red Sox enjoy playing at Fenway (51-37).
The Rangers have dominated Boston the past four seasons, however, winning 25 of the 37 total encounters, including 10 of the most recent 13 in the Lone Star State.
Clear and crisp is the forecast for Arlington this weekend, and the most important bit of weather info for baseball bettors will be wind reports. Current info has the wind slacking off this evening with 5-10 mph NW breezes and a game-time temp in the upper-50s. Technically, that will be blowing out to center, but the wind swirls inside the Ballpark That Dubya Built, and it might actually provide a little resistance for long flies.
Fade away if you wish, but I'm banking on the Red Sox to pick up a rare win in Texas with my first free pick for the set.Don't forget that we're covering another East-West battle this weekend, and Game 2 of the series between the Orioles and Angels is also on our Friday preview schedule.My pick: Red Sox +120 at Bet365