Loe looking for high marks in '06 debut

Loe looking for high marks in '06 debut

Right-hander Kameron Loe enters his first full season as a starting pitcher at the Major League level when the Rangers face the Red Sox on Wednesday, and the big righty has some lofty goals.

"Man, I'd absolutely love to win 15-plus games," Loe said. "I'm not focused on ERA because I can't predict that. But I'd like to win 15 games and go to postseason."

A 15-game winner or two in the rotation would help. The Rangers haven't won a division title since 1999 and have had just two pitchers win at least 15 games in a season since then.

But Loe exudes confidence after going 4-2 with a 2.70 ERA in eight starts last year. Loe did so relying on his sinking fastball and a slider, but has added a changeup since then that should help him against left-handers.

"I think it's going to be something I use more than people think," Loe said. "The situation will dictate how much I throw it, but it will be a very important pitch for me."

Said manager Buck Showalter, "He's gotten more confident. He knows what he can do to be successful and what he does when he's not successful. He has a very good presence on the mound."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (15-8, 3.38 ERA in 2005)
He is making his first start for the Red Sox since being acquired from the Marlins in the offseason. A native of Texas, this is his first start ever against the Rangers. He struck out 166 in 178 2/3 innings last year, an average of 8.4 per nine innings that was tied for the seventh best in the National League. Opponents hit .234 off him.

TEX: RHP Kameron Loe (9-6, 3.42 ERA in 2005)
Loe was 1-0 with 3.68 ERA in Spring Training. Opponents hit .252 off him in 2005, including .223 by right-handed hitters. Left-handed hitters batted .284 off him, but he has worked on a changeup to combat that.

Players to Watch
Hank Blalock and Josh Beckett get to meet face-to-face Wednesday. They have never faced each other in a Major League game, but they were linked this winter when the Rangers showed a willingness to trade Blalock and a Minor League pitcher to the Marlins for Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell.

That trade did not go through. The Marlins traded Beckett to the Red Sox instead.

Blalock vs. Beckett should still be fun. Beckett is a great power pitcher with 607 strikeouts in 609 career innings. Blalock has struck out 281 times over the past two seasons.

But Blalock is also a good fastball hitter who hits right-handers well and also does his best hitting at Ameriquest Field in Arlington.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• Fox Sports Net

On radio
• KRLD 1080-AM; KLFC 1270-AM (Español)

Up next
• Thursday: Tigers (Nate Robertson, 7-16, 4.48 ERA in 2005) at Rangers (R.A. Dickey, 1-2, 6.67 ERA in 2005), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Friday: Tigers (Mike Maroth 14-14, 4.74 ERA in 2005) at Rangers (John Koronka, 1-2, 7.47 ERA in 2005), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Tigers (Justin Verlander, 0-2, 7.15 ERA in 2005) at Rangers (Kevin Millwood, 0-1, 9.00), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Tigers (Kenny Rogers, 1-0, 1.50) at Rangers (Vicente Padilla, 1-0, 1.50), 1:05 p.m. CT

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.