For the past few years, Major League Baseball's power teams have resided in the east. This year, preseason expectations were that the eyes of baseball would shift out west.
Whether the west has overtaken the east will be determined come October, but for now, the best of the American League's East and West divisions square off in a weekend battle of first-place teams at Rangers Ballpark.
The Red Sox come to Arlington with baseball's best record and have been atop the AL East, alone or tied, every day this season.
"They have pretty good pitching, defense and timely hitting," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They brought in some players who are right now playing pretty good. [Shane] Victorino is doing a good job, David Ortiz is off to a good start -- and we all know what he can do -- and [Mike] Napoli is doing a good job in that ballpark. Their bullpen is solid, but they're scoring a ton of runs."
The Rangers, despite their notable offseason departures, once again lead the AL West and own the AL's third-best record. They've gotten there by winning series -- going 5-1-3 -- and have dominated series openers since 2012, going 29-2-7 in series in which they've won the first game.
"We just play to win. We're not worried about all that other stuff," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We just compete the best we can and try to win the game tonight."
Here's one stat the Rangers and Red Sox might be aware of as they prepare for their weekend set: The Rangers are 25-12 against the Red Sox since the beginning of 2009, the best record of any team vs. Boston in that span.
Red Sox: Doubront looks for fourth straight win
• Left-hander Felix Doubront is going for his fourth straight victory in Friday's opener, but he's facing a team that has given him difficulties in his career. Doubront is 0-2 with a 10.32 ERA in five career appearances (two starts) against Texas, his highest ERA against any AL club.
• Ortiz has a double or home run in each of his last nine games, matching the longest extra-base hit streak of his career and longest by a Red Sox player.
Rangers: Holland feels great
Left-hander Derek Holland takes the ball Friday against Doubront looking to continue what he feels has been a "consistent" start to 2013. The 26-year-old has turned in quality starts in four of his five outings, though he is 0-1 with a 6.39 ERA in his past two starts.
"I still feel like I have been pretty consistent all year," Holland said. "All that matters is keep pitching like I have been all year and keep my defense on their toes. I still feel great on the mound."
Holland is 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five career starts against the Red Sox, his lowest mark against any AL East team.
• Boston's 33 days atop the division is the longest such stretch in franchise history.
• Texas' Jeff Baker has home runs in three of his last six starts.