(Photo credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
The Texas Rangers will look to strengthen their position in the American League playoff picture when the Boston Red Sox visit Arlington for the start of a three-game series on Monday night.
Texas (82-67) lost the momentum it gained from a four-game sweep against the host Toronto Blue Jays, dropping three consecutive contests at Cleveland. A 9-2 Sunday loss to the Guardians capped the Rangers' lost weekend.
The Rangers reside 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Houston Astros in the AL West. Texas, however, holds a one-game lead over the Seattle Mariners for the league's third and final wild-card spot.
"That's baseball," Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's humbling at times because we couldn't have played better baseball there in Toronto, and we came down here (Cleveland) and just overall didn't pitch well."
Texas was outscored 23-6 over the weekend against Cleveland. The Guardians sent 14 batters to the plate in a nine-run fourth inning on Sunday that produced all of their offense.
None of the Rangers' top four batters -- Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Nathaniel Lowe and Mitch Garver -- had more than two hits in the series against the Guardians.
"They were tough on us (with their) pitching," Bochy said of Cleveland. "We're a team that needs to put some runs on the board, and we had a tough time doing that this series."
Left-hander Jordan Montgomery (9-11, 3.47 ERA) will look to pitch Texas back into the win column while making his ninth start since being acquired in a trade from the St. Louis Cardinals.
Montgomery shut out Toronto over seven innings of four-hit ball on Wednesday, the same day that ace Max Scherzer was lost to a regular-season-ending shoulder injury. Montgomery had allowed 11 runs on 15 hits -- including three homers -- over his previous two starts.
"I was definitely bummed about Max, but I was furious about the way I've been throwing lately," Montgomery said. "I just kind of just took it all out there and let it out."
Montgomery is 1-2 with a 3.95 ERA in 14 career starts against Boston.
The Red Sox (74-76) followed the Rangers into Toronto and promptly lost three straight contests to extend their overall skid to four games. Sunday's 3-2 setback was their second in a row in walk-off fashion and dropped them to 2-10 in their last 12 games.
Saturday's 4-3 loss in 13 innings dropped Boston below .500 for the first time since June 30.
A resurgent Rafael Devers has homered in three of his last four games, including tying Sunday's contest in the top of the ninth inning. He has 33 homers for the season, the second-highest total of his career (38 in 2021).
"He's locked in right now -- taking his walks, working the count, getting pitches he can drive," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of his star third baseman. "He's in a great place right now."
A recent thorn in Boston's side has been a lack of production with runners in scoring position, as the team went 1-for-14 Sunday and is hitting a league-worst .151 in those situations since Sept. 6.
Devers points to that as a team-wide issue that will need to be corrected down the stretch.
"We need to make an adjustment," Devers said. "Sometimes we're hitting the ball right at people. Sometimes it's just bad luck. That's baseball, and we need to keep grinding and keep giving our best to bring the guys in."
Righty Kutter Crawford (6-7, 4.26 ERA) will draw the start Monday for Boston, which will be the second of his season and career against Texas. He recorded a no-decision after allowing three runs on seven hits in four innings on July 6.
In the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader against the New York Yankees, Crawford pitched four scoreless frames before allowing a run. He wound up striking out seven in 4 2/3 innings of a no-decision.
--Field Level Media