Red Sox Turn to Beckett to Stop the Bleeding With three losses in a row, including the series opener against the Rangers on Monday, the Red Sox try to get back on track with Josh Beckett on the hill in the middle game of the series.

When and Where
8:05 p.m., July 21, 2009
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Arlington, Texas

Records
Red Sox (55-37, tied for 1st place in AL East)
Rangers (50-41, 2nd place in AL West)

Skinny
The Red Sox finished the first half of the season strong with three wins in a row against the Royals, but since then, the Red Sox have faltered. Losers of three straight, the Red Sox have watched their three-game lead in the East disappear to the red-hot Yankees. On the other hand, the Rangers are fighting to stay close to the Angels in the West and doing a pretty good job of it through more than half of the season.

Starting Lineups

Red Sox Rangers
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Ian Kinsler, 2B
Dustin Pedroia,. 2B Michael Young, 3B
Kevin Youkilis, 1B Josh Hamilton, RF
David Ortiz, DH Andruw Jones, DH
Jason Bay, LF Hank Blalock, 1B
J.D. Drew, RF Marlon Byrd, CF
Mike Lowell, 3B David Murphy, LF
Jason Varitek, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Jed Lowrie, SS Omar Vizquel, SS

Pitching Matchup
Josh Beckett (11-3, 3.35) vs. Tommy Hunter (1-1, 2.35)

Beckett makes his first start against the Rangers this season and for him, it couldn't have come at a better time. Beckett has not lost since June 14 and has given up just seven earned runs combined in his last five starts. His last start came against the Royals before the break and he pitched a complete-game shutout to improve to 11-3 on the year. Right now Beckett is the best option for the Red Sox to stop a losing streak.

Hunter has made just four starts this season, but has looked solid in all of them. The longest he has lasted in a game is 6 1/3 innings, but he has gone at least 5 1/3 innings in every outing this season. His last start on July 9 against the Mariners was his best of the season, as he held the Mariners scoreless over six innings. Hunter threw a season-high 104 pitches in that game but did not factor in the decision. The 23-year old will have his work cut out for him with the experienced and patient Red Sox lineup, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the kid throw a nice game.

Stat Sheet
Red Sox

Red Sox hitters are a combined 6-for-11 (.545) lifetime against Hunter.

After hitting .366 through May 31, Kevin Youkilis is hitting just .248 in the months of June and July.

Jonathan Papelbon has allowed just two earned runs since May 25, despite an unusually high amount of walks.

Jason Varitek
is just 2-for-16 (.120) in his last six games.

Dustin Pedroia is hitting .393 in July with two home runs, six RBIs and eight doubles.

J.D. Drew is 1-for-26 (.040) in his last seven games with no RBIs.

Rangers
In 99 plate appearances against Beckett, not one current Ranger has a home run.

Michael Young is 1-for-12 (.083) with one RBI and three strikeouts against Beckett.

Andruw Jones is 8-for-32 (.250) against Beckett with three RBIs, four walks and nine strikeouts.

Ian Kinsler is hitting just .150 in July with three home runs and seven RBIs.

Hank Blalock has five home runs in July after recording just 10 hits total in June.

Elvis Andrus is 2-for-24 (.083) in his last eight games.

Black and Blue
Red Sox

Jeff Bailey was placed on the DL with a high ankle sprain on July 6 and could come off the DL as early as Tuesday.

Daisuke Matsuzaka remains on the DL with weakness in his right shoulder and his return has yet to be determined.

Rangers
Right-handed pitcher Brandon McCarthy has begun his rehab process for a stress fracture in his shoulder. McCarthy was placed on the 60-day DL on July 8 and is 5-2 with a 4.92 ERA in 11 starts for the Rangers this season.

This Date in Red Sox History
Ted Williams hits for the cycle against St. Louis as the Red Sox win 7-4 on July 21, 1946.

Overheard
At the end of the day, I gave up six runs and I shake my head. I battled, [but] it's unacceptable."
John Smoltz on his performance in Monday's loss

Press Box
Red Sox

Smoltz comes up short once again. 

Boston bats are still lacking pop

Jacoby Ellsbury has regained the leadoff spot in the order. 

Rangers
Texas used the long ball to beat Smoltz.

Tommy Hunter has stepped up for the Rangers.

It's now or never for Ron Washington.

MLB
The Yankees walked off with another win in the Bronx.

The Twins coughed up a 10-run lead in a loss to the A's. 

The Phillies extended their winning streak to nine. 

Outlook
The Red Sox are just 8-7 in July with the Yankees and Rays coming on strong in the division. It isn't likely that any of three teams will build a comfortable lead in the East, but it also isn't likely any team will fall out of the race. The Red Sox will need to end their current skid to keep pace with the Yankees, who are winning in every way possible right now. As for the Rangers, they are looking at a race of their own, with the Angels. A series win against the Red Sox will go a long way for them in the standings.