A stagnant Boston offense heads to Arlington, Texas, showing some signs of life. The Red Sox will take on a Texas Rangers team that also has experienced trouble scoring runs.
Considering some of the high-profile players on both rosters, it's baffling that both clubs rank in the bottom third of major league teams in runs.
The Rangers are riding some momentum, fresh off taking two of three from the visiting Kansas City Royals. The Red Sox, losers of six of seven, managed to split a two-game set with the host Atlanta Braves.
Boston announced that Nick Pivetta (0-4, 6.08 ERA) would make the start Friday. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 5.52 ERA in three road outings this year.
Pivetta, who began his career with the Philadelphia Phillies, has faced the Rangers once previously. He didn't get a decision an allowed one run in 4 2/3 innings on May 18, 2017.
The Rangers hadn't officially listed a starter for the series opener, multiple media outlets reported that it would be right-hander Dane Dunning (1-1, 3.38 ERA).
Dunning lacked run support in taking a no-decision Sunday during the first game of a doubleheader against the host New York Yankees. He gave up just one run on two hits in six innings with three walks and five strikeouts winding up with a no-decision in a contest Texas lost 2-1. He made a season-high 100 pitches.
Dunning has faced the Red Sox once before, taking the loss on Aug. 20, 2021, when he gave up five runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.
In the Rangers' series finale against the Royals on Thursday night, a 3-1 Texas victory, second baseman Marcus Semien sat out for the first time this year.
Semien played in all 162 games last season with the Toronto Blue Jays and in 2019 with the Oakland Athletics.
However, the 31-year-old veteran is struggling at the plate, batting .165 with no homers and eight RBIs. He is in an 0-for-17 slump, so manager Chris Woodward felt Thursday was a good time to give him a breather.
Woodward said Semien, who signed a seven-year, $175 million deal with Texas in the offseason, should be back in the starting lineup Friday.
"This guy prides himself on playing 162," Woodward said on the Rangers' pregame radio show Thursday. "Give him a breather. Decompress and come back tomorrow. ...
"He feels pressure. He was brought here for a reason. He wants to win."
Semien felt he was finding his rhythm on Texas' last road trip, but he had little to show for it.
"Just a tough, tough stretch of game," he said. "I'm staying positive."
Brad Miller has provided a spark for the Rangers. In the Thursday game, Miller had two hits, including a home run, and he scored twice. He went 5-fort-8 with two homers in the Kansas City series.
Despite their sluggish results, the Red Sox enter the road series encouraged by some signs they showed on Wednesday in a 5-3 loss to the Braves.
Trevor Story hit his first home run since signing a six-year, $140 million deal with Boston, and J.D. Martinez went 2-for-4, extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
"Story is putting together good swings," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "To see him hitting the ball to straight center, that's a good approach. Good swing."
Story had gone 125 plate appearances between home runs, the longest drought of his career.
The lack of runs for the Red Sox is baffling, because they have some of the top hitters in the American League. Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers are tied for second in the American League with 40 hits apiece.
"I do believe that the last few days, offensively, as far as swinging and being patient, working counts, all that, has been a lot better compared to before," Cora said. "So hopefully we can bring that to Texas and do the same thing."
--Field Level Media