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3 to Watch: The Best in the AL (really, this time) edition

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider
In the last edition of 3 to Watch, I told you that the two best teams in the American League were about to meet in Detroit.

Now I'm telling you that the two best teams in the American League are about to meet in Texas.

This time, I mean it (I think).

Seriously, at this point it's hard to say that any team but the Rangers is baseball's best. But a couple of scouts who cover the entire American League asked me Saturday whether the Yankees are going to win 95 games this year.

And that was before they erased a nine-run deficit and embarrassed the Red Sox (or allowed the Red Sox to further embarrass themselves).

The Yankees may win 95, but right now they have far more questions than the Rangers, even though the Rangers will likely be without third baseman Adrian Beltre for the Yankee series that begins Monday night.

The Yankees won seven of nine from the Rangers last year, with CC Sabathia starting three of the games they won. Sabathia, who gets a start in the Texas series only because the Yankees were rained out Sunday night in Boston, is 10-3 in 17 career starts against the Rangers (plus one more win in the 2010 playoffs).

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Here's what the Red Sox are saying: Daniel Bard is going to be the eighth-inning setup man, but only for a few days, because he's still supposed to be in the rotation, with his next start scheduled for Friday night in Chicago. And maybe that's exactly how it will work. Then again, if Bard does well in his return to the pen, starting with Red Sox at Twins, Monday night (8:10 ET) at Target Field, isn't there going to be a whole bunch of pressure to leave him there?

2. The Royals were supposed to be different this year. And, I guess, this is different: Their latest 10-game losing streak included the first nine games of a 10-game homestand, the first time in franchise history they'd done that. Still, it's another 10-game losing streak, and another Royals manager telling reporters, "We can't continue this." History says yes, they can. This is the sixth time in the last eight seasons that the Royals have had a double-digit losing streak. The Yankees' last 10-game losing streak was 99 years ago. Maybe the Royals can end the streak Monday night at home against the Blue Jays, or maybe they'll start looking different on the road trip that begins with Royals at Indians, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field. Or maybe they're never going to start looking different.

3. All the rain on the East Coast Sunday cost us a dream matchup of Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw, which would have come on Friday night in Los Angeles. The rain pushed the Nationals rotation back a day, pushing Strasburg to Saturday (while Kershaw is still scheduled for Friday). But the rain also pushed the Yankee rotation back by a day, and that gave Japanese fans their dream matchup: Hiroki Kuroda against Yu Darvish, in Yankees at Rangers, Tuesday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark. For all the attention Darvish gets, Kuroda might be even more closely watched, given that two of his first three Yankee starts have been disappointing (while the third was a brilliant eight shutout innings against the Angels).


 
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