The scuffling Red Sox will kick off a three-game set against the Rangers at Fenway tomorrow night. After being swept in the Bronx, the Sox are out of the current playoff picture. In terms of win-loss record, Boston is tied with Oakland for the second Wild Card spot (as they have garnered one more win and one more loss). However, due to the extra loss, their winning percentage is .001 points lower than that of the Athletics.
Game 1 (Friday, 7:10 PM ET)
Chris Sale (1-0, 3.60 ERA) will take the bump in the series opener. In his first outing in two years, the lefty dominated the Orioles over five innings of work. He would allow just two earned runs while striking out eight (and walking none). Sale, who has a 2.61 career ERA against Texas, will look to continue that dominance in a time when the Red Sox desperately need it.
On the mound for Texas will be the right-hander Dane Dunning (5-7, 4.06 ERA). Aside from Kyle Gibson (who was traded to Philadelphia at the deadline), Dunning has been the Rangers’ most consistent starter. Despite his losing record, he has a 1.38 WHIP, and has struck out 97 batters over 99.2 innings of work. Over his last seven games, he is 3-1 with an ERA of just 2.86.
Game 2 (Saturday, 7:10 PM ET)
Eduardo Rodriguez (9-6, 4.97 ERA), who is on a steady upward trend, will make the start in Game Two for the Sox. E-Rod has a 1.12 ERA over his last three starts, striking out 24 batters over 16.1 innings. It seems as though after missing all of 2020 due to COVID-19 complications, Rodriguez has finally found his groove. He will look to lower his 5.07 career ERA against Texas.
The struggling righty Jordan Lyles (5-10, 5.55 ERA) will take the ball for Texas. In August, Lyles is 0-3 with an unsightly 9.00 ERA. The Sox will look to capitalize on one of the hardest-hit pitchers in the game as of late.
Game 3 (Sunday, 1:10 PM ET)
Nathan Eovaldi (10-8, 3.91 ERA) will be on the bump for the series finale on Sunday. Eovaldi has struggled since being named an All-Star (posting a 5.13 ERA over his last seven starts), but he seems to have found himself again. Over his last 12 innings of work, Nasty Nate has allowed just three earned runs while striking out 16. All three of those runs have come on solo shots. If he can contain the long ball, Eovaldi should pick up his eleventh win of the season.
On the mound for Texas will be the lefty Kolby Allard (3-10, 4.88 ERA). Allard has also appeared out of the bullpen for the Rangers, as only 14 of his 24 appearances have been starts. Over his last seven appearances (all starts), he has a miserable ERA of 7.12, allowing 44 hits in 36.2 innings.
Keys to the Series
The Sox will need to get their offense going again. After exploding for 30 runs over three games against Baltimore, they mustered just five in the Bronx, being shutout in Game Two.
The bullpen has been surprisingly solid as of late (posting 6.1 innings of one-run ball on Wednesday). They will need to continue that dominance if the Sox want to take the series.
The starting pitching has remained inconsistent, with Pivetta going just 1.2 innings in the series finale against New York. If the rotation can string together a few quality starts in a row, it might give them the boost they need in a critical stretch of games.
The Red Sox have a golden opportunity to gain ground in the Wild Card race as they face one of the worst teams in baseball. They will need to capitalize in order to remain relevant in the playoff picture.
(Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)