Burning rubber game.

Daisuke Matsuzaka has a 5.09 career ERA against Texas, which has hit a robust .311/.376/.578 off the righthander. The numbers swell to 9.00 and .350/.435/.850 in his one Rangers Ballpark start.

Yet today's lineup will be without Ian Kinsler, who is on the disabled list; Nelson Cruz, who isn't but is sidelined after tweaking his left hamstring last night (though there's a report this morning that Brandon Boggs will be recalled this morning [Craig Gentry broke his wrist in a collision with the outfield wall on Friday; surgery is set for Tuesday], likely for Pedro Strop, while the club monitors Cruz); and Vladimir Guerrero, who is expected (according to at least one local report) to get the day off.

Still, the club's most productive hitters against Matsuzaka have been Michael Young (7 for 11, including two doubles and a homer) and David Murphy (3 for 5 with a double).

C.J. Wilson against Boston lifetime: 1.50 ERA (including 0.68 in two starts), .152/.295/.190 in 24 innings.

Today's game is expected to be the hottest in Rangers Ballpark history. Both 29-year-olds are a bit better at night than during the day.

The Angels sit 7.5 games back, nine in the loss column. They send Dan Haren out to face Toronto's Ricky Romero today, and after a day off tomorrow (which will take those pesky half-games out of the standings, barring rainouts, for about a week and a half), they travel to Boston, while Texas is in Tampa Bay. Los Angeles gets Clay Buchholz, old friend John Lackey, and Josh Beckett, while the Rangers draw David Price, Matt Garza, and James Shields.

It looks almost like playoff baseball this week.

I'll feel pretty good if this team wakes up Thursday in Baltimore with a seven-game lead on Los Angeles, who will travel to Minnesota after finishing up in Boston Thursday afternoon.

Taking this afternoon's game would be a very good start.

===========================================================

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title_authors

Jamey Newberg

Dallas attorney Jamey Newberg has been commenting on Rangers from the big club down through the entire farm system since 1998.

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas was born in Arlington, Texas, to Richard and Becky Lucas. He lived mostly in Arlington before moving to Austin, where he graduated from The University of Texas. Scott works for Austin Valuation Consultants, Ltd., and has published several boring articles about real estate appraisal and environmental contamination. He makes a swell margarita and refuses to run longer than ten kilometres.

Eleanor Czajka

Eleanor grew up watching the AAA Mudhens in Toledo, Ohio. A loyal Ranger fan since 1979, she works "behind the scenes" at the Newberg Report.

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