Somehow the Rangers have gone the entire season into September without having played a game at Fenway Park. Now, after the Red Sox have traveled to Texas to play seven games, the Rangers finally make the trip to Boston. Interesting logic branch followed on the ol' decision tree there, MLB schedule-makers.
Nevertheless, you might have heard that the Rangers have a difficult schedule compared to certain other teams that like to conjure up magic numbers from a distance. And it's true. While the Rangers play these Red Sox at their vaunted venue and then go warehouse shopping at the Trop against the Rays over the next six days, the Orange County baseball team welcomes the trying-to-be-better-than-the-Royals Minnesota Twins and the maybe-someday-will-be-better-than-the-A's-but-I-doubt-it Seattle Mariners to Los Angeles via La Habra. That's a .577 winning percentage for teams the Rangers face over the next week versus a .423 winning percentage for teams visiting Disney Land.
But imagine how Boston feels, if that's something you could find yourself caring to do. They have had to go TEX, OAK in the hurricane, NYY, with TEX, TOR, TBR, TOR, TBR over the next few weeks with the Yankees breathing down their neck. First Place in the East problems, I know.
But imagine how the Angels feel, even though that's something you should try desperately to never do. After they relax while playing the third and fourth worst teams the American league has to offer, they find the likes of New York and Toronto on their schedule. And while those series are sandwiched between games against the likes of Oakland and Baltimore, after this week, the Angels remaining schedule is against teams with a .504 winning percentage compared to the Rangers remaining schedule being against teams with a winning percentage of .480. That does include the final three games the teams play against each other. Yes, the Angels playing the Rangers is bad for them.
So imagine how the Rangers feel, even though that's something you do constantly. Even with a week on an AL East bender there is sunshine peeking through the clouds after the Rays. The entire season sort of looks like it has come down to this: 3.5 game lead vs. a week of difficult baseball. If the Rangers come out on the other side of this short road trip with a lead still in hand, you have to like their chances. And if they stumble during this Beasts of the East tour, they have over two weeks to make up any small deficit. From a Rangers perspective, I think you take this scenario any and every season possible and gladly. From a not-Rangers perspective, enjoy those cupcakes; they may lead to heartburn and heartache later.
Friday, September 2 6:10: LHP Derek Holland vs. LHP Andrew Miller
Saturday September 3 3:10: RHP Colby Lewis vs. LHP Erik Bedard
Sunday, September 4 12:35: LHP Matt Harrison? vs. RHP John Lackey
Here's a breakdown of the pitching match-ups this weekend:
Derek Holland: 12-5, 6.91 K/9, 3.10 BB/9, .320 BABIP, 70.7% LOB, 3.95 FIP, 3.88 xFIP, 2.7 WAR - Last three starts: 9 runs allowed in 18.2 innings
Andrew Miller: 6-1, 6.38 K/9, 5.24 BB/9, .316 BABIP, 74.2% LOB, 4.68 FIP, 4.75 xFIP, 0.4 WAR - Last three appearances: 1 run allowed in 12.0 innings
Advantage: Derek Holland's 3.68 xFIP on the road over Andrew Miller's 5.50 FIP at home
Colby Lewis: 11-9, 7.34 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, .261 BABIP, 75.6% LOB, 4.67 FIP, 4.14 xFIP, 1.4 WAR - Last three starts: 12 runs allowed in 19.0 innings
Erik Bedard: 4-9, 8.67 K/9, 2.99 BB/9, .284 BABIP, 72.1% LOB, 3.54 FIP, 3.42 xFIP, 2.1 WAR - Last three starts: 5 runs allowed in 16.0 innings
Advantage: Erik Bedard's mediocre 1.00 HR/9 over Colby Lewis' American League worst 1.63 HR/9
Matt Harrison: 10-9, 5.98 K/9, 2.85 BB/9, .292 BABIP, 71.3% LOB, 3.65 FIP, 3.89 xFIP, 3.0 WAR - Last three appearances: 10 runs allowed in 11.1 innings
John Lackey: 12-10, 6.71 K/9, 2.90 BB/9, .328 BABIP, 66.5% LOB, 4.78 FIP, 4.57 xFIP, 1.0 WAR - Last three starts: 11 runs allowed in 20.1 innings
Advantage: Scott Feldman possibly starting instead of Matt Harrison over John Lackey definitely starting
Boston Red Sox (83-53, 1st Place AL East)
Rangers 2011 Record vs. Boston: 4-3 (All at Rangers Ballpark)
Boston's Recent Results: 1-2 Series loss to the New York Yankees
Boston's Home Record: 41-27
Fenway Park Park Factors (LHB/RHB): HR: 79/94 - wOBA: 104/107
SB Nation Red Sox Blog: Over the Monster
Match-up: (as of 9/01)
Base Running (RAR)
Overall RAR + UZR
Questions to Answer:
- Would you rather see Scott Feldman start on Sunday and Matt Harrison on Monday in Tampa or Matt Harrison on Sunday and Alexi Ogando on Monday as currently scheduled?
- Who is your pick to lead the Rangers in hits off the Green Monster in this series? (I'll say Adrian Beltre gets reacquainted with the Monster this weekend.)
- Over/Under: 2.5 times TAG and Barnett mention eating at seafood restaurants in Boston?
- Yay or Nay: The Rangers win this series in Fenway?
- Think we'll see thison the Green Monster again?