Red Sox-Rangers Preview
The surprising Texas Rangers are providing hope for a rebirth during their hot streak and with the return of Josh Hamilton.
Now they’re adding some more intrigue by calling up top prospect Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez for his much-anticipated debut.
After Hamilton’s big day helped evened the series, Gonzalez will try to make a strong first impression with the club as the Rangers seek their ninth win in 11 games Saturday night against the visiting Boston Red Sox.
Following five straight winning seasons that included two World Series appearances, Texas fell to the bottom of the AL West with 95 losses last year. It looked like more of the same in 2015 when the club got out to a 16-23 start.
The Rangers (24-25), however, ran off seven straight wins before snapping a two-game slide with Friday’s 7-4 victory. Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP for Texas, hit two home runs in his second home game since being re-acquired last month.
"I said in my press conference before my first game here I can be the player I once was," he told MLB’s official website. "I really feel that way so it’s good to do things in front of the home crowd that I have done before."
Gonzalez will try to keep the club rolling as he makes his debut in what appears to be his rotation spot to lose.
The team’s No. 1 draft pick in 2013 out of Oral Roberts, the 23-year-old went 3-5 with a 4.15 ERA in eight starts at Triple-A Round Rock, though he had gone 2-1 with a 2.20 mark in his past three.
He was the Rangers’ minor league pitcher of the year last season, when he went a combined 12-6 with a 2.66 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 138 2-3 innings between Double-A Frisco and High-A Myrtle Beach.
"It is a combination of his pitch mix and his maturity," general manager Jon Daniels said. "He is going to give us a chance to win and compete, and we also see him getting better at the big league level."
The right-hander may have to cool off Hanley Ramirez, who has gone 4 for 8 with two home runs and a double in this series. He’s now 9 for 19 with four homers and nine RBIs in five career games in Arlington.
The Red Sox (22-27) are hoping to avoid their eighth loss in 11 games by giving the ball to red-hot Wade Miley (4-4, 4.47 ERA). He has a 1.25 ERA over a three-start winning streak after going 1-4 with a 6.91 mark over his first six.
He allowed two runs over seven innings in a 4-3 home win over Texas on May 19 before retiring the first 14 batters Sunday and giving up one run and four hits over eight in a 6-1 victory against the visiting Angels.
"Well, it comes down to fastball command," manager John Farrell said. "Even when he’s gotten a couple of guys on base, he hasn’t overthrown as we saw maybe back in April. He’s turned things around personally this month, that’s pretty clear."
Miley is 1-1 with a 1.84 ERA in two career meetings with the Rangers dating to his time with Arizona. Carlos Corporan is 2 for 2 with a home run off him, while Prince Fielder has gone 2 for 4 with a double.
Fielder, the AL’s batting leader at .364, is hitting .484 with three homers over his last seven games.