ANOTHER SWEEP

BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Texas completed its second consecutive series sweep Wednesday night with a 6-3 victory over the Red Sox. The Rangers had blasted Boston in Tuesday’s series opener 18-3, after sweeping the Twins in three last weekend. Wednesday’s win also clinched a series win for the fourth straight series to open the season, and ran the Rangers’ current winning streak to six games, the longest active streak in the majors. It also moved their record to 10-2 for the season, the best in baseball.

Texas got outstanding pitching performances in this series from Colby Lewis (Tuesday) and Derek Holland (Wednesday). Both went seven innings and surrendered two earned runs to earn their second win of 2012. The big offense in the series came from Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli, both of whom went 6-9. Half of Napoli’s hits were home runs, including a two-run fourth inning shot Wednesday night that put the Rangers in the lead 3-2, a lead they never surrendered. Hamilton hit a mammoth blast Tuesday estimated at 469 feet. His batting average rose to .440, the best in the American League. Adrian Beltre, Michael Young and Nelson Cruz also went yard in the series.

Texas certainly caught the Red Sox at an opportune time. The team chemistry is in disarray after manager Bobby Valentine made negative and offensive comments about Kevin Youkilis last weekend. The Red Sox are also missing two-thirds of their starting outfield to injury – Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford, both All-Star caliber players.

The Ranger win was the fifth on the road trip, clinching a winning record for the first trip of the season. The trip continues this weekend with four in Detroit, which has been a very difficult place for the Rangers to play in recent years. Yu Darvish starts tonight, moving ahead of Matt Harrison in the rotation. With last Monday’s off day, Darvish will be pitching on the fifth day since his last start. Harrison, the major league ERA leader at 0.64, will now go a full week between starts when he takes the mound Friday. Neftali Feliz will face reigning Cy Young and MVP award winner Justin Verlander Saturday, and Lewis pitches Sunday’s finale.

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