After fashioning 7 1/3 frames out of their bullpen on Tuesday, the Rangers sure could use a lengthy start Wednesday evening in Boston.
In that sense, Texas right-hander Alexi Ogando will be tossed right into the fire in his first game back from inflammation in his right triceps muscle. The club activated Ogando from the 15-day disabled list, and he will make his first appearance since May 15 against Oakland.
Left-hander Joseph Ortiz was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to make room for Ogando on the roster. Ortiz was 2-1 with a 5.13 ERA in 20 relief appearances.
"I expect him to pick up where he left off, probably with a bigger smile on his face," Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux said of Ogando. "He was feeling pretty good about himself, but he had to battle through his last couple starts because of this. He still got through it. I'd just like for him to show the sharpness he showed in his bullpens and his rehab start."
In that lone rehab game on May 31 for Double-A Fresno, Ogando allowed just two unearned runs in six innings. Before he hit the disabled list, the lanky right-hander was 4-2 with a 3.08 ERA. He'll be tasked with stopping a Red Sox offense that posted 17 runs against six different Rangers pitchers on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, right-hander John Lackey gets the ball against Texas. Sound familiar?
It should. Wednesday marks Lackey's 38th start against the Rangers, tied for the fourth most all-time. Only Jack Morris (41), Roger Clemens (40) and Mike Moore (39) have started against Texas more.
In the previous 37 outings, Lackey struggled, posting a 12-15 mark with a 6.14 ERA. Still, he has earned plenty of respect from the Rangers during that time.
"The thing about Lackey is, he's always a competitor and he'll be out there competing," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He'll keep fighting until John Farrell decides he's had enough. He's always fought, and he always will. It's in his blood."
Lackey (3-5, 2.96 ERA) allowed three solo homers in his last start, but he's generally done a good job this season staying down in the zone, having limited opponents to a .229 batting average.
"The one thing he's done with increased consistency is he's worked ahead in the count," said Farrell. "He's been very good at establishing strike one. There has been consistently better later action to his secondary stuff."
Lackey and the Red Sox haven't lost a series since May 20-22 against the White Sox. They would extend that streak with a victory Wednesday after they routed Texas on Tuesday night, 17-5. Boston hung a six spot on Texas in the second inning and held an 8-0 lead after two, scoring in every frame but the eighth.
Rangers: Beltre's status uncertain
• Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre has not played since Saturday because of a strained left hamstring, and his status for the remainder of the road trip is in question.
Manager Ron Washington said Beltre could play Wednesday or Thursday in Boston, but added that he'd prefer to keep Beltre off the field in Toronto over the weekend because of Rogers Centre's artificial turf.
• Cruz is hitting .413 at Fenway Park, the third-highest batting average all-time among players with at least 50 at-bats there. He is also batting .364 against Boston, the best mark among active players.
Red Sox: Bradley goes yard
• Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. hit his first career home run on Tuesday, a two-run shot in the bottom of the second inning against Rangers starter Justin Grimm.
The 23-year-old rookie has started to hit, notching a pair of doubles Saturday in the Bronx, as well. He figures to remain in center field for as long as it takes Jacoby Ellsbury to recover from left groin tightness that has kept him out since Thursday.
Ellsbury will likely be out of the lineup again on Wednesday, but Farrell said the injury probably won't cost the speedy center fielder a trip to the DL.
• Of the four Rangers with more than 20 at-bats against Lackey, none are hitting above .225. Adrian Beltre (.207) is the only current Ranger with a homer against Lackey, but he's also struck out 14 times. A.J. Pierzynski (.224), Nelson Cruz (.222) and Elvis Andrus (.160) have also struggled.
• The Red Sox will have to win the remaining two games of the three-game set in order to avoid dropping yet another season series against the Rangers. As it stands, they've lost each of the past four.
• It's been pretty much all or nothing for Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in five at-bats against Ogando. He's homered, doubled and struck out three times.