The Texas Rangers have a five-game lead in the American League West. Tonight they begin a four-game series with the second-place Anaheim Angels in Arlington. (And over the next 11 days they'll face the Angels seven times. How the West was won, anyone?)
In other words, time for new pitching ace Cliff Lee to earn his money.
Lee has been good, but not great, in his first two starts. He has pitched nine innings in both games but the Rangers are 0-2 in his starts, one when he allowed three homers to the lowly Baltimore Orioles and last week when he gave up a two-out, 9th-inning hit in Boston that forced the game into extra innings.
The Rangers brought Lee to Texas for games like tonight. Last year with the Philadelphia Phillies he was 7-2 in the final two months of the season including a sparkling 4-0 in the playoffs.
If he gets the Rangers off a good start tonight, their lead on the Angels could be seven games by Monday.
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Thursday: Cliff Lee vs. Jered Weaver - In a battle of aces the Rangers must win a game with their best on the mound.
Friday: C.J. Wilson vs. Joe Saunders - Rangers have never lost to Saunders and Wilson has been Texas' most consistent pitcher from Opening Day.
Saturday: Scott Feldman vs. Ervin Santana - On paper, Texas' worst matchup of the series. Feldman has done nothing this year except blow leads.
Sunday: Tommy Hunter vs. Sean O'Sullivan - Hunter has yet to lose this season.