Red Sox vs. Rangers MLB Preview

Charlie Culberson #2 of the Texas Rangers. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP
Charlie Culberson #2 of the Texas Rangers. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP

Not much was expected from Boston and Texas according to the preseason baseball futures. The Rangers are living up to their end of the bargain currently by holding down the AL West cellar, while the Red Sox are surprising leaders in the AL East heading into their long weekend series.

Boston Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers

at Globe Life Field

Boston reaches the Lone Star State with a 3-game lead in the AL East and looking to build on a 3-game win streak. The Red Sox just took two in New York, holding the Mets lineup to one run in the short interleague series.

Texas resides in the AL West basement, five games behind the frontrunning Oakland Athletics. The Rangers have dropped five of their last six trips to the diamond, losing two of three to the Los Angeles Angels to begin this homestand and dragging around the second-worst run differential in the Junior Circuit.

BoSox Top AL in Scoring

Though Texas has a distinct advantage – on paper – in the starting pitching matchup, top sportsbooks have assigned -120 to -130 chalk to Boston backers. Martin Perez (0-1, 5.71) will take his turn in the Red Sox rotation opposite Kyle Gibson (2-0, 2.30) for the Rangers, and Thursday’s scoreboard target is 8½ with a lean to the ‘over.’

Perez hasn’t made it through the fourth inning in either of his last two starts, allowing 11 hits and six runs across 6.1 innings. He was a -140 favorite at the top sportsbooks last Friday in Boston against the Seattle Mariners, and issued four walks while burning through 83 pitches before exiting two outs into the fourth. The Red Sox held on for a 6-5 win at Fenway that evening.

Having spent his first seven big league seasons with the Rangers, Perez is set to face his former club for the third time since leaving after the 2018 campaign. He faced Texas twice while he was with the Twins in 2019, Minnesota winning both games while Perez worked 11 innings with six runs allowed.

Gibson a Bright Spot for Rangers in April

A big factor in why the Rangers sit near the bottom of the AL in scoring is all of the Ks on their scorecards. Texas hitters lead the AL with 263 strikeouts through the first 25 games, Joey Gallo the biggest culprit of the group with 35 whiffs to rank as the third-most in the majors.

An early candidate for AL Comeback Player of the Year honors, Gibson takes the mound for a sixth time this season with four consecutive quality starts under his belt. The righthander has failed to decision in either of his last two starts despite allowing just one run in 14 combined innings. The latest was last Saturday in Chicago where the White Sox plated just one against Gibson in his six innings as a +155 underdog on the MLB odds.

Gibson has run hot-&-cold in his seven career starts against the Red Sox, going 2-4 with a decent 3.62 ERA across 44.2 IP. JD Martinez (10-33, 2 HR) has been a tough out for Gibson over the years, and he’s happy to see Mookie Betts (8-20, 3 HR) no longer in the Boston lineup.

Rivalry Trends, Roof Report & A Free Pick

This is the first meeting since September 2019 between the Red Sox and Rangers, and first-ever at the new ballpark in Arlington. Boston has a 355-317 all-time advantage in the rivalry that dates to the Rangers’ days as the rebirth of the Washington Senators, the Red Sox increasing that gap in recent years by taking 18 of the last 26.

We’ll have to wait and see how the new stadium plays between the teams in the totals column, but the ‘over’ was the way to go in the last few years of the old ballpark’s existence (9-4 O/U). Neither team is trending strongly in either direction on the totals, Boston arrives 13-12 O/U and Texas running 11-12-1 O/U/P.

There are rain chances across Texas for the next couple of days, upwards of 40% this evening in the D-FW metroplex around game time. Expect the roof to be closed Thursday night, and probably the next couple of contests as well.

Despite these two sides heading in different directions right now, it’s difficult for me to get behind the Red Sox as chalk with Perez on the hill. Instead, I’ll take a chance on Gibson continuing his nice start to 2021 with a free MLB pick on the hosts Thursday evening in the Lone Star State.

Free MLB Pick: Texas Rangers +105 at FanDuel

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