Chris Sale back on mound as Red Sox host Rangers

National Sports

The Boston Red Sox will turn to left-hander Chris Sale, in his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery, for damage control as they get set to host the Texas Rangers for a three-game series beginning Friday.

The Red Sox are coming off a disastrous three-game sweep in New York that saw the Yankees surpass them in the standings. Not only is Boston now 6 1/2 games back in the American League East, but the club is out of playoff position, a half-game behind the Oakland Athletics for the second AL wild card.

“We’re pretty (mad) at ourselves. We wanted to come out here and we wanted to win the series,” said outfielder Hunter Renfroe, part of an offense held to five runs in the series. “A few weeks of us not playing up to our potential, and I think everybody’s frustrated with themselves and kind of beating themselves up.”

Overall, the Red Sox have lost 14 of 20 to fall a long way from being tied for the top record in the AL at the All-Star break. Boston has a four-game series on the horizon at the end of the month against the first-place Tampa Bay Rays that could make or break its season, but Boston can’t overlook the Rangers after losing three of four in Texas during their first meeting this year.

Sale (1-0, 3.60 ERA) takes the mound after allowing two runs over five innings against the Baltimore Orioles in his first start in two years. He’s expected to ramp up slowly following his elbow injury.

Sale struck out eight and threw 89 pitches against the Orioles. The ace was grateful to be back with the club, which made things easy for him with a 16-2 victory.

“It was just a special day,” Sale said of the support he received from the fans and his family. “I couldn’t be more appreciative.”

Sale is 7-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 15 games (11 starts) vs. the Rangers.

Texas, the second-worst team in the AL, has dropped 12 of 15, including an 11-inning defeat at home Thursday that sealed a three-game sweep for the Seattle Mariners — another club nipping on Boston’s heels in the playoff hunt.

The Rangers rallied for five runs — including a game-tying three-run home run from No. 9 hitter Jason Martin — in the ninth inning to force extra innings against the Mariners on Thursday.

“Obviously we didn’t finish and we didn’t end up winning that game, but there’s definitely (positive) things like being down and coming back and fighting in the last couple of innings,” Martin said. “It just shows that we just keep going, and that’s something that we need to do throughout this year.”

Right-hander Dane Dunning (5-7, 4.06) will toe the rubber for the Rangers.

Dunning will make his first career start against the Red Sox. In his last outing, he held the Athletics to two runs but lasted just 4 2/3 innings in his return from the injured list with right ankle impingement.

After Thursday’s game, Texas announced assistant general manager Shiraz Rehman left the organization this week.

–Field Level Media

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