Red Sox-Rangers Preview
Boston Red Sox at Texas Rangers
- Texas is 25-12 against the Red Sox since the beginning of the 2009 season, the best record in the majors versus Boston over that time frame.
- Derek Holland is 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five career starts against Boston. He is trying to become the first left-handed pitcher to win at least five of his first six career starts against the Red Sox since Kenny Rogers won each of his first six starts against Boston (1991-1995).
- Ian Kinsler is currently on an eight-game hitting streak. Kinsler is hitting .441 (15-for-34) with six doubles and five RBI during the eight-game stretch.
- Felix Doubront is 3-0 with a 4.24 ERA in four starts this season. Doubront is trying to become the fourth left-handed Red Sox starter to win four of his first five starts to a season since 1992 (Frank Viola in 1993, Darren Oliver in 2002 and Jon Lester in 2013).
- Mike Napoli's 31 RBI are the most by any player in their first 28 career games with the Red Sox since Manny Ramirez started his Red Sox career with 33 RBI through his first 28 games with the team in 2001.
- Boston has outscored opponents by 10 runs in the first inning this season (18 to 8), tied with the Rays for the largest differential in the American League.
- MLB intends to ban home plate collisions
- RHP Colon, Mets agree to 2 years, $20M
- Mariners add sluggers Hart, Morrison
- Agent: Dodgers OF Kemp won't be traded
- Bucs extend RHP Morton for 3 years, $21M
By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- Mike Napoli played a major role as the Texas Rangers won an AL championship in 2011 and appeared in the playoffs in each of his two seasons. When he sought a multiyear deal in free agency, though, the team wasn't prepared to commit given his injury history.
The Boston Red Sox took a chance on him, and that risk has paid off so far.
Napoli faces his former team for the first time as Boston visits Texas in the opener of a three-game series Friday night.
After batting .275 with 54 homers and 131 RBIs in 221 regular-season games with the Rangers, Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Red Sox during the offseason.
During his physical, though, a hip issue was discovered and he signed a one-year deal with a $5 million base salary and incentives that could make the total value of the deal reach up to $13 million.
Napoli battled injuries and missed 103 games while with Texas, though he hasn't missed a single contest this season. He's hitting .283 with team highs of six homers and 31 RBIs after going 1 for 5 in Thursday's 3-1 victory over Toronto.
Boston (20-8), off to its best start since opening 20-7 in 2002, has won seven of eight and scored fewer than six runs for the first time in that stretch Thursday.
Napoli is 3 for 6 with a homer in his career off former teammate Derek Holland, who seeks his fifth straight victory over the Red Sox.
Holland (1-2, 3.38 ERA) posted a 1.64 ERA over his first three starts, but he allowed six runs in 5 2-3 innings of Texas' 7-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels on April 22. He pitched better Saturday by allowing three earned runs and five hits in seven innings, though he suffered a 7-2 loss at Minnesota.
The left-hander has been stellar when facing the Red Sox recently, winning each of his last four starts against them while posting a 2.22 ERA. Holland allowed three runs and struck out seven in 7 2-3 innings of a 5-3 victory in the latest matchup July 25.
Texas (17-11) has dropped four of five after falling 3-1 to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, scoring two or fewer runs in each defeat. The lone run in its last contest came on a second-inning homer from Adrian Beltre, who hit .321 with 28 homers and 102 RBIs for Boston in 2010.
Beltre, hitting .215, is 3 for 24 over his last six games, with each hit being a home run. His only hit in his last 12 at-bats versus the Red Sox left the ballpark.
"He's going to be the run producer," manager Ron Washington said. "What you see now, you won't see through the season."
Felix Doubront (3-0, 4.24) is scheduled to take the mound looking to help Boston win for the third time in 10 meetings with Texas.
Doubront has won his last three starts after giving up three runs and four hits while striking out eight in 6 2-3 innings of Saturday's 8-4 win over Houston. He walked three, threw a wild pitch and allowed two runs in the first inning before settling down.
"I'm just waiting for that moment that I can put it all together to get more efficient," Doubront said.
The left-hander hasn't been very good against Texas, though, going 0-2 with a 10.32 ERA in two starts and three relief appearances. He allowed six runs and eight hits in five innings of a 9-1 loss in his most recent start against the Rangers on July 23.
Right fielder Shane Victorino is back in the starting lineup for the Red Sox after missing seven games in a row because of lower back stiffness.
Updated May 3, 2013