The Red Sox will need to bounce back in a hurry after a disappointing series against the 47-61 Twins saw Boston take just one of four games. Texas is in town, bringing with them a 63-44 record, one of the best lineups in the game, and bad memories of Boston's series defeat in Arlington despite having the fortune of facing mainly replacement starters.
If that weren't bad news enough, this time the Sox will get the brunt of the Texas rotation. There will be no Triple-A call-ups this time, but a strong front-three featuring Yu Darvish, Ryan Dempster, and Matt Harrison.
With David Ortiz still out, and the Sox hitting the weak part of their rotation, it could be an ugly series for Boston.
Boston Red Sox (54-55) vs. Texas Rangers (63-44)
Monday, August 6, 7:10 p.m. EST
Aaron Cook (2-5, 5.24 ERA) vs. Yu Darvish (11-7, 4.38 ERA)
The honeymoon period is over for Aaron Cook after a pair of terrible games against the Yankees and Tigers. The Rangers, really, are just about the last team he needed to face right now, but he'll get them all the same. Some nights, if the sinker is working, miracles can happen even against the best teams, but the chances are that the Red Sox will have to score some runs for him.
If there's one pitcher in the series that the Sox should be able to hit, it's Yu Darvish, who may be hitting the wall in his first season in the MLB. After a very strong start to his career, the Japanese star has been knocked around with some regularity in the past month. It'll be up to the Rangers to figure out why this is happening and fix it, but for now the Red Sox will hopefully take advantage of their opportune timing.
Tuesday, August 7, 7:10 p.m. EST
NESN/MLB Network, WEEI
Jon Lester (5-9, 5.36 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (5-5, 2.82 ERA)
Jon Lester is finally showing signs of life. After a decent start against the Yankees, Lester looked downright good against a Twins lineup that, while not outstanding, is one of the best in the game against lefties. The Rangers are better, certainly, but all the Sox need is for Lester to be solid, and show signs that he's returning to what he once was.
The last thing the Rangers want is for Dempster to return to what he once was. The right-handed veteran has had plenty of bad years in his career, including 2011, and after a ridiculous run through the first four months of the season, Dempster started August and his Texas career off by allowing eight runs in under five innings of work. In fairness, that was to an Angels lineup that ranks amongst the best, and the Red Sox aren't quite as impressive without Ortiz. Still, he was vulnerable to the homer, and the American League will NOT be as easy as the National League. Hopefully the Sox can at least make him look more like the 4.50 ERA Dempster than the 1.75 ERA Dempster.
Wednesday, August 8, 1:35 p.m. EST
Josh Beckett (5-9, 4.54 ERA) vs. Matt Harrison (13-6, 3.17 ERA)
Josh Beckett won't here the love from Fenway after his most recent injury saga, but before he got hurt the beleaguered starter was cruising against the Tigers. Right now anything the Sox get from him is gravy, whether it's building value towards an offseason trade, or just foreshadowing the return of odd-year Beckett for 2013.
For a while Harrison would've been exactly the sort of player the Sox would want to see: a familiar lefty who pitches to contact and hasn't done too well in Fenway Park. Of late, however, the left-mashers have failed to mash lefties, and the Red Sox have fallen to them time and again. Perhaps old trends will come through for this third game, but given how well Harrison has fared so far this year, I wouldn't expect much.