The second half of the season begins Thursday for the Red Sox when they open a four-game series with the Texas Rangers. The set features two of the four American League teams with at least 50 wins entering the All-Star break.
Here are a few things to look forward to as the Sox and Rangers square off on what should be a steamy weekend at Fenway Park:
Run, Rangers, Run
The groans inside Fenway Park on April 20 were audible throughout the city each and every time a Texas runner stole a base off Tim Wakefield and Victor Martinez, recording nine thefts in the first five innings.
It was a team record for the Rangers and it allowed them to take an early 5-2 lead. The Sox would rally to win the game on a Darnell McDonald walk-off hit but allowed Texas to steal five more bases in the next two games of the set.
Those wild nights at Fenway came while Boston was having all sorts of problems limiting opponents' running games. The club has improved in that area since, but still has not thrown out a Ranger in 34 stolen base attempts since Aug. 2008.
When the Rangers picked up Cliff Lee last week, reportedly wresting him from the arms of the New York Yankees, they were flying high, on top of the AL West and with one of the best pitchers in baseball now in the fold.
Lee's losing debut during a four-game sweep at the hands of Baltimore took a little wind out of their sails.
Although Lee threw his fourth complete game in a span of five starts, he gave up six runs and got little support in a 6-1 setback.
Lee, who has twice as many complete games (six) as the Sox do as a team, threw eight scoreless frames the last time he faced Boston. He is scheduled to start Saturday opposite John Lackey.
Felix the Cat
Clay Buchholz will throw a rehab start at Pawtucket rather than rejoin the rotation, giving Felix Doubront at least one more start with the big club Friday against Colby Lewis.
The young lefty has been solid in his first two outings. He has given up a combined five earned runs in 10 2/3 innings, going 1-1 against two formidable opponents, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays.
Doubront has yet to allow a home run in 80 1/3 innings split between the minors and majors. Texas is fifth in the AL with 90 homers.