By Will Martin
It’s only May but whenever you have a match-up for two first place teams-one with the rich history of the Boston Red Sox ’tis a given that fan interest locally and nationally shall go through the roof.
The Texas Rangers finally lost a series in 2013 at the hands of the Chicago White Sox on May 2nd when a curveball hung a little too high from the hand of Justin Grimm and Chicago’s Tyler Flowers put the petal to the metal, sending a screaming line drive into the teeth of a 39 degree evening with wind gusts at 30 miles per hour. A 3-1 loss with the Rangers held to three hits by Chicago pitching. Not your normal of May days in North Texas.
Texas Rangers (17-11) faced the Boston Red Sox (20-8) under more comfortable albeit chilly conditions in Arlington Friday night. Adrian Beltre was mired in a 4 for 34 slump. Derek Holland (1-2) despite some great starts has been given 2.3 runs per game by his teammates. Smallball has been more in evidence than longball. You also had a catcher’s reunion with the return of Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Felix Doubront was your Red Sox starter with a career ERA of 10.23 in Arlington. That number would go even higher through no fault of his own, initially. The Rangers would get on the board in the second inning after two were out with a double by Jeff Baker, a single by Mitch Moreland (Baker held at third), and what should have been an inning-ending groundout by Craig Gentry that was underthrown by Pedro Ciriaco and bounced off Mike Napoli’s glove. 1-0 Rangers after 2.
Inning four would seal Felix Doubront’s fate with a career ERA in Arlington closer to 11.55. Again after two were out Texas went to work. Singles by Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler, and Elvis Andrus plated a run home. After a walk to Lance Berkman, Adrian Beltre emptied the bags with a rope to the left field alley. Bye-bye Doubront and a Texas Rangers lead of 6-0. An RBI double by Ian Kinsler in the 5th completed the scoring before 42,441 fans who stayed after for a some colorful fireworks.
Derek Holland for eight innings was pure money fanning nine, walking one, and scattering six hits. Only one batter reached second base on his watch. Holland (2-2) was aided by an 18 hit team performance. Holland’s efforts were duly noted by Ron Washington post game.
“Tonight, Derek was at his best,” Washington said. “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. I thought he had already won three or four ballgames. Since Spring Training, he has been throwing the ball well, and tonight was another example of what he can do.”
Games like these have been few and far between in 2013 for the Texas Rangers. It was also the second time in two weeks I made a Friday appearance and the local guys win 7-0. Adrian Beltre went 4 for 5, three hits apiece for Kinsler and Moreland. Adrian, were you happy with the four it night compared with going 4 for 34?
“I haven’t seen four hits in a long time,” Beltre said, “so it’s nice to get into the groove a little bit and hopefully that’ll be the start of another streak.”
The winds were blowing out toward right field, not from, so no jet stream or homers on this night. The marquee matchup will be Sunday at 2:05 on Cinco De Mayo when Yu Darvish (5-1) 2.33 and Jon Lester (4-0) 3.11 meet up for what should be a pitcher’s duel.
John Lackey (1-1) 2.61 and Alexi Ogando (2-2) 3.38 face off Saturday night 7:05 pm. It should be noted that since 2009 the Texas Rangers have OWNED the Red Sox with a record of 26-12. This stat sat very well with Elvis Andrus.
“They have a great team,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said of Boston, which leads the Majors with 20 wins. “They are playing really well. It’s a great challenge and you have to elevate your level and be ready to go.”
Derek Holland gave Texas their 5th shutout of 2013, tying them with the Mariners and Rays for most in the A.L. Was this one of Derek’s better performances?
“I’d say it was probably one of my best ones for sure, but I’ve got to give credit to my defense,” Holland said. “They made the plays and A.J. has been great back there for me, pushing me and also, I feel like we’ve really been on the same page. It’s been real good throwing to him as well.”
Rangers fans also exuded a wonderful modicum of class when Mike Napoli came to the plate. Warm applause and a chant of ‘Nap-O-Li’ rang for a few moments. Nap enjoyed his two years in Arlington while happier to be getting more play time in Boston. His night was 0 for 4 with a punchout.
It’s only May and alot can happen. Two things are a certainty in 2013. Great pitching and two out hitting-to the tune of seven runs on any given Friday. If only there are more of these strung together…