Next Potential Victim for Red Sox’s Betts: Rangers Lefty Hamels

Friday, May 4, 2018 5:02 PM UTC

Friday, May. 4, 2018 5:02 PM UTC

The best hitter in the American League right now is Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, and he brings his scorching-hot bat to Texas on Saturday night.

Boston Red Sox at Texas RangersFree MLB Pick: Red Sox (& Over)Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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It’s the third game of a four-game set between the Red Sox and Rangers on Saturday night (8:05 ET) in Boston’s only trip of the season to Arlington. It’s also set to be one of just two games on the night between southpaws (Angels-Mariners is the other).

First, let’s talk about Boston outfielder Mookie Betts, who is the clear-cut AL MVP favorite (he finished second in 2016) right now in leading the American League in average, homers, runs, slugging and OPS. On Wednesday in a win over the Royals, Betts was 4-for-4 with three solo homers. It was his third multi-homer game of the season and second with three dingers.

The Red Sox have been around forever. One might imagine the team record for three-homer games would be, I don’t know, a half-dozen? Nope, it’s four. And Betts now holds it – he only broke into the majors in 2014. He had been tied with the greatest Red Sox ever and maybe the best pure hitter ever, Ted Williams, with the three games of three homers. Betts is the first player in major-league history with four three-homer games before turning 26. He will turn that age Oct. 7. Betts also became the first player since Nolan Arenado in 2016 with two home runs in one game of at least 440 feet.

Of the top five players on MLB’s all-time home run list, only two guys have as many as four three-homer games: Barry Bonds with four and Alex Rodriguez with five. Hank Aaron? One. Babe Ruth? 2. Willie Mays had three. The big-league record of six is held by Sammy Sosa and Johnny Mize.

Incidentally, we almost saw MLB history on Wednesday because Cleveland’s Edwin Encarnacion also hit three bombs that night. There has never been a day in baseball history with a trio of three-homer games. The Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton had two Wednesday. Still, it was the first day with multiple three-homer games since May 29, 2013, when Dioner Navarro and Ryan Zimmerman did it.

Expect a lot more homers around baseball now that the cold weather in the Northeast and Midwest is a thing of the past. Betts went yard again in Game 1 of this series (see below Tweet) to tie Dom DiMaggio for the most home runs hit from the leadoff spot (69) in the batting order in team history.

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Can't stop, won't stop. 🔥

— Red Sox (@RedSox) May 4, 2018

Probable Pitchers: Rodriguez vs. Hamels

I sure hope Betts plays Saturday night or most of this story is worthless! Entering this series, Betts was a career .310 hitter off Texas pitching with two homers and a slugging percentage of .829. The Rangers start lefty Cole Hamels on Saturday and Betts has just three at-bats off the veteran with a homer, RBI and strikeout. Hanley Ramirez has seen Hamels by far the most of any Boston batter, hitting. 279 with three homers and 16 strikeouts in 68 at-bats. J.D. Martinez is 4-for-12 with a homer.

Hamels (1-4, 4.08) is clearly no longer a Cy Young-caliber pitcher at age 34. Texas has lost six of his seven starts. He comes off a solid enough outing in Cleveland, allowing two runs (one earned) and four hits with eight strikeouts and three walks over five innings in a no-decision. Batters are hitting .252 off Hamels and his WHIP is 1.39. He does have a pretty good 47:16 K/BB ratio through 39 2/3 innings. Hamels is 4-1 with a 2.68 ERA and 1.000 WHIP in six career starts vs. Boston. He has allowed 10 homers in 37 innings but they’ve all nearly been solo shots.

It’s Eduardo Rodriguez (3-0, 4.78) for Boston. This will be the first time Rodriguez has pitched at Texas since his stellar MLB debut in 2015. He was knocked around for five runs in four innings last time out vs. the Royals but avoided a loss. After that game, he was placed on the family medical leave list but is eligible to return here and is penciled in.

It would be Rodriguez’s first start in Arlington since his memorable MLB debut on May 28, 2015, when he threw 7.2 shutout innings in a victory. No Ranger has more than four career at-bats against him.

  • Rangers are 0-5 in Hamels' last 5 home starts.
  • Over is 4-1 in Hamels' last 5 starts vs. American League East.
  • Over is 8-3 in Red Sox’s last 11 vs. American League West.

Not a huge fan of either pitcher here, but Texas is missing practically its entire starting infield due to injury and the Red Sox are raking. The Rangers also have lost six straight Hamels starts vs. teams with a winning record. Like Boston for a Saturday MLB pick and also a lesser lean to the ‘over.’

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