American League's Battle of the Best

TEXAS RANGERS VISIT BOSTON RED SOX IN AMERICAN LEAGUE"BATTLE OF THE BEST"

The two best records after this weekend's action in the American League belonged to the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox, who begin a three-game series Tuesday Night at Fenway Park. That means we're looking at a possible playoff preview. At the very least, we'll see a great test for how both of these teams perform in a showcase series against an opponent playing at a very high level.

The Red Sox just finished a"rivalry" series against the New York Yankees. The Yankees offense has been missing in action for a few weeks! Texas is in very good form right now, setting up must-see action for baseball fans.

Let's run some numbers for the teams and the projected pitchers...

WON-LOST RECORDS
Texas: 35-21
Boston: 35-23

Texas already has close to a 90% chance to make the playoffs because they're off to such a great start in a division with three weaklings. Boston is only at 80% because its hot start has come in a killer division that has threats coming from Baltimore, New York, and recently surging Tampa Bay. The Rangers would obviously be one-game ahead in the standings if they and Boston were in the same division. The Red Sox could change that by winning this series.

TUESDAY'S PITCHERS
Texas... Grimm: 5-3, 3.93 ERA, 1.44 WHIP
Boston...Dempster: 2-6, 4.45 ERA, 1.39 WHIP

Grimm has been an extremely pleasant surprise for the Rangers. But, that WHIP suggests trouble is on the way. And, he's been less impressive in recent outings after getting a lucky start schedule-wise against the likes of Seattle and Minnesota. Grimm will face one of his toughest tests of the year having to deal with Boston's offense in Fenway Park.

It's been the other side of the coin for Dempster...who was supposed to be an important addition to the Red Sox staff this year. He's only shut down the worst opposing offenses, and has had trouble finding consistency. He may be a NL pitcher who's in over his head in the superior league.

Those WHIPS suggest an Over might be worthy of consideration in this good hitter's park. Both starter's"recent" ERA's are worse than their full season numbers too.

WEDNESDAY'S PITCHERS
Texas ...Ogando: 4-2, 3.08 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
Boston ... Lackey: 3-5, 2.96 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

Ogando hasn't pitched in the majors since May 15, as he was dealing with a biceps issue. He was in very good form when he had to take that injury break. If he picks up where he left off, the Rangers are going to be very tough to derail in the AL West race. As strong as ever with better starting pitching than the media realizes because Arlington pollutes pitching stats.

Lackey deserves better than a 3-5 record given those stats! It's very good news for Red Sox fans that Lackey is finding some of the best form from his prior career. So many had given up on him, it's like found money if he can go in and munch some innings. If he can post an ERA and a WHIP like that all season pitching half his games in Fenway Park...it's going to be one of the major stories of the 2013 season. Very interesting pitching matchup Wednesday Night in a game that will be nationally televised by ESPN.

THURSDAY' PITCHERS
Texas ...Holland: 5-2, 2.81 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
Boston ... Lester: 6-2, 3.53 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

Yu Darvish still gets all the media attention, but Holland has been a true ace of the staff this year. Those are fantastic numbers when you have to pitch half your games in Arlington. Darvish and Holland create a hellacious one-two punch that few in the majors can match right now.

But, you can't argue with what Lester is doing either. You have a great sense of why both the Rangers and Red Sox are in first place in their respective divisions. Darvish and Clay Buchholz miss this series because both threw gems on Sunday. Yet, you still see a depth of quality pitching. Sure, Dempster's been a disappointment...but that's more than made up for by what the Sox have been getting from Lester, Lackey, and Buchholz. Texas doesn't have any disappointments!

It's likely JIM HURLEY will have a big play release on a side or total in at least one of these games. But, there are other marquee matchups going on right now as well. What a great build-up to the Belmont! Bigtime baseball all week, the NBA Finals starting Thursday...and then the final leg of horse racing's Triple Crown on Saturday.

Also of interest on the diamond right now:
Tampa Bay at Detroit
Clevefland at NY Yankees
Pittsburgh at Atlanta
Arizona at St. Louis

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23
Nov

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