The Red Sox enter Tuesday's opener with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with a 7-0 record in the season series. Also, Dustin Pedroia will be back in the lineup. It has the makings of a very winnable series for Boston.
However, the Angels have won six of their last nine and will throw three pretty good arms at the Sox, including ace Jered Weaver in the opener.
In order for Boston to achieve success in the all-important first three games of a long homestand, here are a few keys.
Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig
In less than one month the Red Sox have had to endure two 10-game road trips, making for an arduous summer away from the friendly confines.
However, going back even further than that they have not been taking full advantage of their time at Fenway, going 8-9 here in their last 17 games against American League opponents.
With more tough roadies ahead, including visits to New York, Tampa Bay, Chicago and two West Coast cities, Boston must take advantage of nine straight at home. Getting off to a good start against Anaheim is imperative.
Follow Pedey's Lead
Pedroia will instantly transform the lineup. There is no doubt about that. Where he may have an even bigger impact is on the bench and in the clubhouse.
Sure, Pedroia was around the team to offer support and verbal assistance while rehabbing from his broken left foot, but when he's active and in the mix he becomes that much more of a vocal leader.
Expect some chirping from Pedey and, in turn, a more focused and intense bunch.
This was also one of our three keys entering the last series in Texas. Obviously it did not go very well.
Josh Beckett gave up six runs on 10 hits in five innings against the Rangers to suffer through his second straight difficult outing. After three solid starts coming off the disabled list he is 0-1 with a 12.10 ERA.
It's been a matter of locating the fastball for Beckett, who has thrown too many heaters straight over the plate to good hitters. If he can couple some solid off-speed stuff with a fastball that stays clear of the heart of the plate he should find success.
It's getting pretty late in the season to be waiting on Beckett to get going, so his start in Thursday's finale looms large.
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