Division leaders collide in Arlington on Saturday night as the Texas Rangers play host to the Boston Red Sox in the second of a three- game set.
Despite having won just twice in the last six outings, the Rangers are still the top club in the American League West, 1 1/2 games ahead of Oakland. On Friday the squad belted out 18 hits, eight of those coming in the first 15 at- bats, en route to the 7-0 triumph in the series opener to snap a two-game slide.
Adrian Beltre accounted for four of those hits for the Rangers, knocking in three runs in the process, while Ian Kinsler and Mitch Moreland both tacked on three hits, the latter scoring a pair of runs. Beltre is the first Rangers player to tally four hits in a single game this season.
"I haven't seen four hits in a long time," Beltre noted, "so it's nice to get into the groove a little bit and hopefully that'll be the start of another streak."
Texas starter Derek Holland made it through eight innings, allowing six hits and one walk, while striking out nine. Against his old mates, Derek Lowe closed out the meeting with a perfect ninth.
"Tonight, Derek was at his best," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Holland. "He had a good fastball, change-up, slider, he moved the ball around in the zone and kept them off-balance. He has been pitching well; he just hasn't been getting the results ... Since Spring Training, he has been throwing the ball well, and tonight was another example of what he can do."
Boston's Felix Doubront was knocked around for 12 hits and six runs in a mere 3 2/3 innings of action as he suffered his first loss of the season.
Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury finished with two of his team's six hits and struck out his other two at-bats for the Red Sox, who lead the AL East by 2 1/2 games over the New York Yankees.
Having played in the AL West for the first eight years of his career with the Angels, John Lackey has quite a lengthy history against the Rangers and will add another chapter to that tonight when he takes the hill for the Red Sox. Making just his third start of the 2013 campaign, the right-hander has a career mark of 12-14 with a lofty 6.16 ERA in 36 previous appearances versus Texas.
Lackey last threw on Sunday versus Houston at home, making his way through six innings as he gave up just a single run on five hits and a couple of walks, while striking out four in what was to become a 6-1 victory, his first of the season.
Countering for the Rangers tonight will be Alexi Ogando. The right-hander, now in his fourth major league season, won his first two outings of 2013 but has since lost two and been denied decisions in two others.
Ogando was also in action last weekend, coming out on the short end of a 5-0 setback versus Minnesota on the road as he lasted six innings and surrendered three runs on four hits and a couple of walks, while striking out three.
Of his six appearances thus far, Ogando has pitched in front of the home crowd only once, resulting in a win against Tampa Bay nearly a month ago.
Despite being the first team in the majors to reach 20 wins this season, recent history has not been favorable for the Red Sox when it comes to playing Texas, the team losing the season series in each of the last three years.