David Ortiz has stepped up his game at the plate this season, and Boston's offense has benefited.
The Texas Rangers have been in sole possession of first place in the AL West for 45 straight days, but they’ve lost ground in the division in six of the last 10 days. They’ll try to get back on track at the Boston Red Sox tonight at 7 p.m. on ESPN2/WatchESPN.
Through 57 games, the Rangers are tied for their best start in franchise history. In each of the previous three seasons that the Rangers were 35-22 through 57 games, they went on to finish in first place.
The Rangers have been solid on the road at 17-14, but they’ve tied a season high with four straight losses away from home. Since 2009, Texas is 28-13 against the Red Sox, the best record of any team in baseball against the Red Sox in that span. Before Tuesday night’s drubbing, the Rangers had won 10 of their past 12 games against the Red Sox.
Rangers starter Alexi Ogando is making his first start since May 15; he went on the disabled list due to right biceps tendinitis. This will be Ogando’s eighth start on the road this season compared to just two at home. He has a 3.52 road ERA (1.59 at home).
Ogando is 2-2 overall in his career against the Red Sox (1-1 in two career starts) with a 3.93 ERA. He’s 2-0 with 1 ER in his last 10 IP against Boston since 2012, including a win against them in Texas on May 4 this season (6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 4 K, 2 BB).
Once a true flamethrower, relying heavily on a hard fastball, Ogando now throws a much softer version of the pitch less than half the time. In 2010, the right-hander threw a changeup 5 percent of the time compared to 16 percent this season.
Alexi Ogando vs. Lefties
Last 3 Seasons
The changeup has been effective for Ogando. Opponents are batting just .172 in at-bats ending with the pitch thus far this season, with the majority of the usage coming against lefties.
Worst to first?
The Red Sox are enjoying a 14-6 stretch and are trying to become the seventh team since the current divisional format began in 1995 to go from worst to first in their division. Boston leads baseball in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage versus right-handed pitchers this season (.288/.362/.481).
The Red Sox have an .843 OPS against right-handed pitchers this season, the highest in the major leagues. Last season, their .717 OPS against righties ranked 18th.
Last 5 Seasons
Boston’s hitting performance this season has been in part due to David Ortiz's resurgence at the plate.
Ortiz appeared to be on a decline typical for a hitter of his age as recently as 2010 when he struck out in a career-high 24 percent of plate appearances. He hadn’t batted over .300 in three seasons. Since 2011, Ortiz has drastically reduced his strikeouts (13 percent of plate appearances) and he boasts a .988 OPS.
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