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Monday, July 19, 2010

Rangers take 3 of 4 at Fenway, send Sox on do or die West Coast swing

Even before they acquired ace Cliff Lee, I thought the Texas Rangers were finally a legitimate threat to take the sisters of the poor AL West and more importantly, make some noise in October.

They always have a formidable lineup and this year is no exception. Now with Lee, they boast one of the most underrated and deep pitching staffs in MLB.

It's no surprise that they took 3 of 4 from the Red Sox at Fenway Park this weekend. What's surprising is the one game they lost was the one that Lee started on Saturday night. Granted, he went nine innings and the Sox tied it in the ninth before winning in 11 innings.

Yesterday it was former closer C.J. Wilson's turn to completely shutdown to Boston (52-40) as the Rangers (53-39) won 4-2.

Wilson (8-5) went 6.2 innings, striking out a career-high 10 as he gave up one earned run on three hits with five walks.

As of today, the Red Sox are 3.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL wild card and 6.5 games behind the Yankees. The good news is that Clay Buchholz is scheduled to start Wednesday in Oakland and Josh Beckett is set to return on Friday in Seattle. The bad news is that Boston's next 10 games are on the West Coast and 20 of their next 27 are away from the friendly confines of Fenway.

They are not going to catch New York period, end of discussion. I don't think they'll catch the Rays either but that's their only hope. The A's are average, the Mariners are terrible and the Angels are OK, so even though this trip will be a test of endurance, a .500 mark is certainly reasonable.

Sox ace Jon Lester (11-4) couldn't win yesterday despite eight solid innings. He allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits with three walks and six strikeouts.

Possible trading chip Michael Bowden made his first appearance of 2010 for Boston and it was a good one: a clean inning with two strikeouts. Time will tell if he's a solution in the bullpen but right now, he's a better option than Ramon Ramirez, Hideki Okajima, Scott Atchison, Manny Delcarmen or Dustin Richardson.

Adrian Beltre gave Boston a 1-0 lead in the second with an RBI double.

Texas scored two in the fourth on Nelson Cruz's (2 hits) double and an error by Beltre. The Rangers added a run in the fifth on a double steal by Elvis Andrus (3 hits) and Julio Borbon, the latter whom stole home. Finally, Ian Kinsler added an RBI single in the eighth when Andrus just beat the tag at home by Kevin Cash.

Mike Cameron hit a solo homer in the ninth off Rangers closer Nefalti Perez but he was able to work around that with two strikeouts for his 24th save of the season.

As if the 10:07 EST start time tonight in Oakland wasn't bad enough, Dice-K faces Ben Sheets. This could very likely set the record for longest game in MLB history after they faced each other earlier this season in a complete shitshow.

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