Coming off a tough 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox that finished up a eight-game road trip, the Texas Rangers will come home this weekend to face the best team in all of baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays.
Can the Rangers steal a series at home against the Rays and prove to the rest of the AL West that they should be taken seriously?
The Rangers are reeling just a bit in their last 10 games (3-7) mainly because of poor pitching performances from the majority of their starters. Over that 3-7 stretch, Texas starters have pitched an average of 5 2/3 innings per start and have recorded a 6.27 ERA.
The Rangers rotation was a strength of the team at the beginning of the year, but it is turning into a nightmare in recent weeks. Their poor production is really putting a serious strain on important bullpen arms like Neftali Feliz, Darren Oliver, Darren O'Day and Frank Francisco that could come back to hurt them at the end of the year.
This series will be a good test for the Rangers because they probably wont be scoring too many runs against the stout Rays rotation.
Starting pitchers CJ Wilson, Tommy Hunter and Rich Harden must step up their game in order for the Rangers to have a chance in low scoring affairs.
The Rays are obviously the best team in baseball for a reason. Their 3.17 ERA is the best in the AL and their 5.19 runs per game is the third best rate in baseball.
The Rangers must find a way to keep their offense rolling. Coming off two nine-run games in Chicago, most of the Rangers lineup is hitting their stride. Michael Young is on fire over his last 10 games and should carry it over at home where he has hit .346 this season.
Vladimir Guerrero injured himself in a freak accident in batting practice before Wednesday's game and missed the last two games of the Chicago series. He is questionable to return for the Rays series, but it would definitely be a big boost for Texas if they can get their dominant DH back for this crucial series.
Even without Vlad, this hot Rangers lineup should be a pretty good match-up for the three Rays starting pitchers, all of which have sub 4.04 ERA's. Will the 100 degree forecasted temperatures for this weekend's series turn this series into a hitter's dream?
This will definitely be an interesting series in Arlington this weekend and everyone in the MLB should take note if the Rangers happen to take two or three from the Rays.