After getting swept at home by the Blue Jays, the Red Sox begin a six-game road trip against the two best teams in baseball starting Monday night with the first of three at Texas, which begins a 10-game homestand.
Boston knows it will have to pitch much more effectively to combat the powerful offenses of the Rangers and then Yankees, who they’ll play this coming weekend. The Red Sox gave up 28 runs in their three losses to the Blue Jays, capped off by a 15-7 shellacking on Sunday. Texas returns home for the first time since July 8, having gone 4-4 on its West Coast road trip to begin the second half of the season. Boston will hand the ball to left-hander Felix Doubront, who has been the team’s most successful pitcher this season, leading Boston to a 13-5 record in 18 starts, including a 7-1 mark on the road. The Rangers were going to counter with veteran Roy Oswalt, but he is unable to go because of back spasms. Texas now turns to spot starter Scott Feldman who carries a 6.46 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 10 starts this year, a span in which the Rangers are 3-7. Despite a sub-.500 home record, the Red Sox have a strong 23-20 road mark, and the Rangers bats have been quiet in July, scoring just 3.1 runs per game with a .239 batting average.
Doubront (10-4, 4.24 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) has had a strong July, going 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in three starts. He held the White Sox to just one run on four hits in six innings his last time out, making the Red Sox 5-1 in his past six starts. Doubront has been much more effective on the road this year, going 5-1 with a 3.09 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 46.2 innings. This includes a 3-1 mark and a 2.45 ERA in his past five starts outside of Fenway Park. He’s started only once against Texas in his career back on July 16, 2010 when he allowed four runs (2 ER) on seven hits in 4.2 innings of an 8-4 loss. He’ll expect even more run support on Monday with the league’s highest-scoring offense (479 runs) facing a subpar starter.
Feldman (3-6, 5.89 ERA, 1.46 WHIP) may never forget his lone career start against Boston on Aug. 12, 2008, when he was the biggest reason his team lost a 19-17 slugfest. Feldman lasted just 2.2 innings that day, giving up 12 runs (6 ER), 10 hits (2 HR) and three walks, which equates to a 20.22 ERA and 4.87 WHIP. After losing six consecutive starts from May 14 to June 14, Feldman has actually won two of his past three starts, despite a 5.29 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in this span. He hasn’t pitched since July 8, when he threw two scoreless innings in relief of a 4-3 win in 13 innings against Minnesota. The one positive for Feldman is that his control has been impeccable since June 1, posting seven times more strikeouts (28) than walks (4) in 31 innings. He has also been extremely hittable in this span, carting a 6.97 ERA and .309 opponents’ BA. But if and when Feldman struggles on Monday, Texas is confident in turning it over to its bullpen. Rangers relievers have a 3.26 ERA and 1.11 WHIP this season, converting 22 of 27 save chances (82%). Texas also has the best home record in baseball at 29-16 (.644), including 14 wins in the past 19 games in Arlington (.737).