Rangers slugger Prince Fielder is hitting .358/.421/.582 with 13 RBIs and seven extra-base hits in May. (Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)

Red Sox-Rangers series preview

May 19, 2015 - 6:45 am
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In their first series back from a 10-game road stint, the Red Sox welcome the Rangers to Fenway Park for the next three days. The Sox return home with a 5-5 record against the Blue Jays, A's and Mariners and are seated third in the AL East, 3 1/2 games back of the first-place Yankees. The Rangers are fourth in their division, 8 1/2 games behind the Astros, who have the best record in the American League at 25-14. Texas, with its 16-22 mark on the year, is 4-6 in its last 10 games. Most recently, the Rangers nabbed a 5-1 victory over the struggling Indians on Sunday, though they had lost the three games prior. The biggest problem for the Rangers this season has been, like the Sox until recently, subpar pitching. With a staff ERA, starters and relievers alike, of 4.23, Texas has give up 178 runs, eighth most in the majors. There is a discrepancy between the rotation and the bullpen, though, which is what the team has the most trouble with. Texas starters have a 3.98 ERA, smack dab in the middle of the league. While that's not particularly good, there are still teams that have it much worse. The relief arms, on the other hand, have a fourth-worst ERA of 4.68. In addition, Rangers relievers have given up a league-worst 73 runs on 137 hits. They also get the most work of any bullpen staff in the majors, logging 134 2/3 innings. Red Sox relievers are third in that category as they have tossed 131. To rectify at least part of this issue, some changes were made to the Rangers roster Sunday, including moving starting lefty Ross Detwiler, who is 0-5 on the year with a 6.95 ERA, to the 15-day DL. Detwiler was originally scheduled to get the ball against the Sox on Wednesday, but now Phil Klein is expected to start in his place. "I think certain guys have put themselves in positions where we're better when they're in more high-leverage spots," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said on Sunday after the moves. "With other guys, it's still up in the air. I think [manager Jeff Banister is] going to utilize them as needed based on who's throwing well and the matchup and who's coming up." In regards to offense, the Rangers are doing much better in May than they did in April. On the year, Texas has a fifth-worst team batting average of .237, but in May alone it's a ninth-best .270. Similarly, over their 38 games thus far, the Rangers have scored 158 runs, 16th best in the majors and ninth best in the AL. In May, though, their 83 runs are fifth best among all 30 teams and third in the AL, behind just the Twins, who have 85, and the Blue Jays, who have 88. Their 24 home runs in May are also second best in the league while their season total of 37 ranks 11th. Here are the pitching matchups for the series: Wade Miley (2-4, 5.60 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (3-5, 3.94 ERA) Joe Kelly (1-2, 5.58 ERA) vs. Phil Klein (0-0, 7.71) Clay Buchholz (2-4, 4.93) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (1-2, 3.86 ERA) WHO'S HOT: RED SOX -- Shane Victorino may be finding his stride again. He's cultivated a four-game hit streak and a .353/.421/.588 slash line since his return from injury. Though he was in the lineup for just three of the four Mariners games this weekend, he was 5-for-10 with a solo home run, two walks, two strikeouts and a stolen base. -- In his last six games, Xander Bogaerts grabbed six hits in 19 at-bats with a triple and an RBI. He also has managed an overall .316/.350/.421 slash line in that time with a walk. -- Matt Barnes has hurled four scoreless innings in his last three games, allowing just three hits in that time with two walks for an opponent slash line of .214/.313/.214. So far this season, Barnes has given up just one earned run in 7 1/3 innings of work for a 1.23 ERA. WHO'S HOT: RANGERS -- Shin-Soo Choo is slashing .419/.455/.774 in his last seven games, collecting 13 hits in 31 at-bats with a triple and three home runs. Choo has five RBIs, two walks and eight strikeouts in this seven as well, but over his last 10, Choo has elevated his season batting average from .165 to .242 by hitting .405. -- With 11 hits in his last seven games, Prince Fielder has kept his batting average consistently hovering around .340, climbing as high as .348 on Thursday. He has knocked in nine runs during that span as well with the help of three home runs. In the month of May, Fielder is slashing .358/.421/.582 with 13 RBIs and seven extra-base hits. -- Adrian Beltre is another piece in a successful Texas offense, at least in this month. Beltre, who is 15th in the league in RBIs, has slashed .357/.375/.607 in his last seven games with seven RBIs and 10 hits, two of which were home runs and one a double. With his home run on Friday, Beltre became the 52nd player to record 400 home runs. WHO'S NOT: RED SOX -- Mookie Betts is on a bit of a skid recently, collecting just three hits in his last 25 at-bats, though he has three RBIs. He has a .120/.148/.120 slash line in his past seven games and this slide is coming on the heels of a nine-game hit streak, which was snapped in the second game vs. the A's on May 12. Since that game, Betts has just one hit in his last 20 at-bats. -- Pablo Sandoval has just one hit in his last five games, two total in his last seven for a .087 batting average in 23 at-bats. Both of those hits were home runs, bringing his slash line in that time to .087/.125/.348. Since the beginning of May, Sandoval's slash line has fallen from his April total of .312/.398/.442 to .269/.338/.418. -- After a pair of scoreless outings against the Rays and Blue Jays, Craig Breslow has given up earned runs in each of his last two appearances. He surrendered a run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning on May 11 in Oakland and then, in another 2/3 innings, earned a run again vs. the Mariners. He now has a 1.62 WHIP and allows batters to hit .368 against him in the month of May, compared to his 1.23 WHIP and .200 average in April. WHO'S NOT: RANGERS -- Neftali Feliz has allowed four earned runs in his last three innings on the mound. Opponents have hit .308/.400/.615 against him in that time and he has a 2.00 WHIP as well, 1.71 on the year. -- Thomas Field hasn't appeared in all that many games for the Rangers, just six, but over that period he's hit just .238, though his OBP is .333 and he is slugging at a .524 clip thanks to a pair of home runs. Field has one multi-hit game this season and has struck out five times in 21 at-bats, giving him just as many hits as he has K's. -- The catching duo of Robinson Chirinos and Carlos Corporan have hit a combined .200 in their last eight games total. With Chirinos getting five starts to Corporan's three, the pair have eight strikeouts. And though his batting average is the worse of the two, Chirinos has gathered three walks, two RBIs, a double and a home run in his latest stint while Corporan just has a pair of hits and three K's to his name.

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