Josh Beckett-Tommy Hunter Pitching Matchup Will Set Tone of Series

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Josh Beckett-Tommy Hunter Pitching Matchup Will Set Tone of Series In six games in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington last year, the Red Sox lost five times. Similar results could put the club in a significant hole before it begins a nine-game homestand next week.

Here are three keys to avoiding such a fate.

Beckett Bounceback
In three starts after coming off the disabled list, Josh Beckett gave up five runs in 20 2/3 innings. In one outing at New York on Sunday, he gave up seven runs in just 4 2/3 frames.

Beckett told reporters he felt great after the loss to the Yankees, so we can assume it was a matter of location. He caught too much of the plate on several offerings to the high-powered Bronx Bombers and paid the price.

He will have to avoid doing the same against the Rangers, who rank third in the AL in hitting and fourth in runs per game.

Beckett's start opposite the 9-1 Tommy Hunter will set the tone for the series for Boston.

Running Wild
The Rangers had a streak of 35 successful stolen base attempts against the Red Sox snapped during their four-game series in Fenway Park last month. But they followed that up by getting one run on a steal of home in a win over Jon Lester the very next day.

Texas, which had a franchise-record nine steals vs. Boston earlier in the year, is not afraid to test Victor Martinez and others. Chances are they will go early and often if and when old friend Jarrod Saltalamacchia gets in there.

It was the Rangers, after all, that sent Saltalamacchia to the minors to work on his throwing problems before trading him to the Red Sox.

Limiting the Texas running game will be key.

Drink Plenty of Water, Find Lots of Shade
It's a pretty safe bet that this series will be played in warmer conditions than any other in which the Red Sox have been involved all season. The first-pitch temperature in Friday's opener is expected to be around 98 degrees, and that's a night game.

It'll be about the same Saturday night, and likely warmer when the teams play an afternoon game on Sunday.

The Rangers will be sweating, too. After his start on sweltering Wednesday night, ace Cliff Lee said that the heat wore him out. Texas, however, is somewhat used to the oven that is Arlington in August. Boston will have to do what it can to make the weather a non-issue.

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