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On Deck: Rangers Vs. Red Sox

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On Deck: Red Sox

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On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2012 season.

The Opponent: With five wins in their first seven games after the All-Star break, it looked like the Red Sox might be mounting a run back into the playoff race after their brutal start to the season. Then they lost three straight at home to the Blue Jays over the weekend to fall back to .500 and just as far from relevance as at any other point this season. 

Past 2012 Meetings: The Rangers last saw the Sox in April and thrashed them by a combined score of 24-6 in two games. That gave a sense of where this Boston season was headed and all the talk of a rebound has remained nothing more than talk as the season has continued to go down wrong track after wrong track.

Pitching Matchups: Monday - Felix Doubront (10-4, 4.24 ERA) vs. Scott Feldman (3-6, 5.89); Tuesday - Clay Buchholz (8-3, 5.19) vs. Colby Lewis (6-6, 3.43); Wednesday - Josh Beckett (5-8, 4.53) vs. Derek Holland (6-5, 4.84)

What's Hot: There were some signs of life from Mike Napoli during a 5-for-11 weekend in Anaheim, including two home runs in the lone win of the series on Saturday. Elvis Andrus, Craig Gentry and Adrian Beltre have also been hitting a little bit, providing some hope that the team's offensive return isn't too far away.

It's looking more and more like a totally lost season for the Red Sox, but Will Middlebrooks has given them at least one positive to point to in 2012. He wasn't expected to be part of the team this year, but started hitting upon his arrival from the minors and hasn't really stopped. That led to Kevin Youkilis' departure and at least one reason to smile about this mess of a year.

Monday's game is the first of 10 straight at home for the Rangers, which might be just what they need to stop treading water and start kicking things into overdrive again. The team hasn't looked awful, but they have looked a beat off in just about everything they've done of late. Perhaps a nice stretch of sleeping in their own beds can't help bring out better results.

What's Not: Feldman returns to starting duty in place of Roy Oswalt, who is being bothered by back issues and the Rangers could find themselves in a tight spot on Tuesday as well. Lewis left his last start early with a forearm injury, something that will likely force him onto the disabled list out before the game on Tuesday and/or lead to two straight busy nights for the bullpen.

Beckett, Buchholz and Jon Lester have been so bad this season that you have to wonder why the Red Sox stopped with the fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse. At least they made it all the way to September before falling apart last season.

Josh Hamilton still hasn't figured out how to snap the nosedive that has complicated the picture of his impending free agency even more than his torrid start. Three strikeouts against the Angels on Sunday were the latest indignity in an increasingly long list of them and the Rangers offense isn't going to cook again until Hamilton rediscovers his stroke.

Familiar Faces: The complete pitching breakdown, not to mention the unwillingness of the Red Sox to do anything about it heading into the season, has made it impossible to accurately judge Bobby Valentine's first year in Boston. Having said that, it is clear that the core of the team wasn't down with the managerial change. Kevin Youklilis is gone in large part because he couldn't get along with Bobby V and Dustin Pedroia seems about as pleased to be in Boston as the members of the Penn State football team are to be in State College.

Related Topics On Deck, Rangers, Red Sox
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