After taking their first series win of the season against Tampa, the Red Sox will need a sweep if they're going to make it two-in-a-row as the Texas Rangers come to town for a two-game set in Fenway.
It's been a hot start for the Texas Rangers, who come into Boston with just two losses to date and riding on a four-game winning streak. Still, with the White Sox, Mariners, and Twins in their wake, the Red Sox should present a different level of challenge for the reigning American League champions.
The Red Sox, of course, have come to life over the last week. After starting the season 1-5, Boston enjoyed a three-game winning streak which saw them outscore divisional rivals Tampa Bay 31-11. And while the winning streak may have come to an end Monday thanks to Rays ace James Shields, the Sox must feel that the game could have been won were it not for some questionable calls late-game.
Hopefully, with a little better luck and, perhaps more importantly, zero games started by James Shields, the Sox will be able to get back on a winning track before the Yankees arrive.
Boston Red Sox (4-6) vs. Texas Rangers (8-2)
Tuesday, April 17, 7:10 p.m. EST
Jon Lester (0-1, 2.40 ERA) vs. Colby Lewis (1-0, 1.42 ERA)
Jon Lester was arguably more impressive in his second game than his first, finding greater control of his pitches than in his first outing and being nearly perfect in six of his eight innings. But with a slightly "off" third and Bobby Valentine not even so much as warming up a reliever behind him as he flagged in the eighth, Lester ended up allowing three runs, which was too much for the Sox to overcome against a dominant Ricky Romero.
Colby Lewis, on the other hand, has two strong starts to choose from, but definitely had a better go of things in the second, when he went 6.2 scoreless with six strikeouts and not a walk in sight. He's not, however, gone terribly deep in either game, and when you combine a pitcher who's apparently struggling to put people away efficiently with a team that's finally getting back to working long at bats, it could be a recipe for success.
Wednesday, April 18, 7:10 p.m. EST
Josh Beckett (1-1, 5.68 ERA) vs. Derek Holland (1-0, 3.38 ERA)
Josh Beckett bounced back in tremendous fashion from his terrible start to the season by holding an ultra-aggressive Rays team to just the one run in eight strong innings of work. He'll have to watch out against the Rangers, however. Packing a much bigger punch than the Rays lineup, the Rangers will likely punish Beckett if he tries to live as much in the zone as he did against Tampa.
After maintaining his success from a short 2010 with a strong 2011, Holland is looking to put it all together and take the next step with an improved 2012. So far, so good, as the lefty followed up a decent start against the White Sox by dominating the Mariners for 7.1 innings. The big problem for Holland will be avoiding damage from the Red Sox' lefty-mashers in Mike Aviles, Cody Ross, and Kelly Shoppach, who have started to come into their own in Fenway.