American League teams needing quick starts

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    The second half of the Major League Baseball season is about to begin and three games are on tap in the junior circuit for participants in sports betting. Two contests feature playoff contenders who are looking to begin the second half with a win, to set the right tone for the rest of the season, hopefully to keep building momentum from this point.

    Rangers and Red Sox rumble

    Boston (51-37, +3.9 units) actually has a better record than Texas (50-38, -1.8), but is in third place in the AL East behind New York and Tampa Bay, while the Rangers have the largest lead (4.5 games) among the six division leaders.

    Both clubs have been slumping and are in need of a fast start to rebuild momentum. Boston has lost five of last seven games, falling behind the Rays in the standings as all their injuries apparently have caught up with them. Seven important players on are the disabled list and that includes All-Stars Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez and Clay Buchholz.

    “I know it’s not perfect, I recognize that, but the level of intensity and trying to do the right thing has been off the charts,” manager Terry Francona told the Red Sox’s official website. “It’s been a challenge, but one that I think we’ve all kind of enjoyed. … Our job is to win with what we have.”

    The Red Sox have not enjoyed much success versus quality clubs the last two seasons with a 5-19 record against teams with a win percentage of 54 to 62 percent in the second half of the season.

    Texas starts this four game series with its confidence more shaken than Mel Gibson, having lost a four game series at home to Baltimore of all teams. The Rangers base paths looked like Dallas at rush hour in failing to beat the Orioles once, leaving a total of 37 runners on base in being swept. Those losses left the Rangers 6-15 against AL East opponents this season.

    Texas opened as an underdog at online sports betting outlets, but were quickly turned around to a favorite with Tommy Hunter (5-0, 2.34 ERA) facing Tim Wakefield (3-7, 5.22). Hunter has had seven quality starts in eight outings, but was torched for nine runs in 1 2/3 innings in only Fenway Park start. The Rangers are 3-8 this month.

    Boston won final game in Toronto 3-2 and is 18-2 in home games after scoring and allowing three runs or less over the last two seasons. Wakefield will especially careful with Vladimir Guerrero who is hitting .434 against him (10 for 23 with five homers). The BoSox have had little to fear from the Rangers, being winners in 11 of previous 14 in Bean Town.

    Scalding Sox try to avoid Minnesota mishaps

    During the All-Star telecast, FOX analyst Tim McCarver talked about asking Chicago’s Paul Konerko if he had ever played on a team that was as hot as the White Sox (25-5 since June 9) and the first basemen’s answer was direct and to the point, “Never”.

    Chicago’s current eight-game winning streak and torrid play had them blasting by Minnesota (46-42, -3.4) and Detroit to the top rung in the AL Central.

    The Pale Hose trailed Minnesota by 9.5 games when this scintillating streak first started and even the manager of Chicago is trying to come to grips with the situation. “I think it is a shock just because the way the team was playing, how many games we were out of first place. It’s a shock how quick we did it,” skipper Ozzie Guillen said. Chicago is 11-2 after four or more consecutive wins this season.

    The White Sox (49-38, +9) make a second trip this season to Target Field with hopes of drowning past failures in the land of 10,000 lakes.

    Playing in the Twin Cities is not listed as a favorite spot by the White Sox, having lost 16 of last 20; however except for 1-1 this year, the rest of the damage was done at the old Metrodome, where seemingly everything went wrong.

    John Danks (8-7, 3.29) hasn’t received a great deal of run support despite being effective and he and Chicago are 19-10 on the road (1-6 lifetime at Minnesota) since 2008.

    The Twins are 47-19 at home against left-handed starters the last three seasons and hand the ball to Kevin Slowey (8-5, 4.64), trying to turnaround season that has gone south with 6-13 record of late. Slowey and the Twinkies are smallish -115 money line home favorites for those betting on sports and are 14-2 in home games after he walked one or fewer hitters each of his last two outings over the last three seasons.

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