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On Deck: Rangers at Red Sox

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP

    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: The Red Sox did the writers on Boston's sports pages a big favor by getting off to a 1-5 start after the disastrous end to last season. With a new manager, a new general manager and an offseason that fell short of most people's expectations in terms of additions to the roster, a bad start made it like shooting fish in a barrel. Three wins in four against the Rays stopped the insanity, at least temporarily.

    2011 Rewind: You couldn't have forgotten it already, but just in case you had an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind thing we'll recap it quick and dirty. Everything went just fine for the Red Sox until the middle of September when they couldn't win a game if they were spotted with a 10-run lead against little leaguers. They missed the playoffs, the offseason was full of articles about fried chicken, beer and Terry Francona's personal issues and now there's a whole new regime in Beantown.

    Pitching Matchups: Tuesday - Colby Lewis (1-0, 1.42) vs. Jon Lester (0-1, 2.40); Wednesday - Derek Holland (1-0, 3.38) vs. Josh Beckett (1-1, 5.68)

    What's Hot: Josh Hamilton certainly seems to be wasting no time making his case for a new contract. Hamilton has been crushing the ball over the first 10 games of the season and if he keeps this up much longer Rangers fans will probably start passing the hat around the Ballpark to kick in for a new deal.

    Ian Kinsler already got his contract, so he's either celebrating it or he's just the type of person who would keep working even after he won the lottery. Kinsler and Hamilton each have four homers and they'd be grabbing a lot more attention if not for the historically good start by the Rangers rotation.

    David Ortiz has been declared dead more times than the newspaper industry. There are still papers hitting doorsteps in the morning, though, and Ortiz is still hitting major league pitching. He had seven consecutive hits at one point over the weekend and is at .410 overall on the season.

    What's Not: The Red Sox lost Andrew Bailey to injury before the season, throwing the back of their bullpen into disarray that didn't quiet down once Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon took the mound. Both of them have had some shaky moments already and there's no surer way to turn life in Boston into a nightmare than by having the bullpen blow chances with regularity.

    He's only gotten 20 at-bats thus far, but Mitch Moreland hasn't turned any of them into a signal that his struggles from the end of last season were just a mirage. He'll only play one game in this brief series, but it won't be much longer before it feels like one too many.

    The Rangers' schedule steps up in class considerably with the Sox, Tigers, Yankees and Rays all coming up on the docket. Life could get more difficult or this could jump the Rangers up into a position of serious strength before the first month comes to an end.

    Familiar Faces: Bobby Valentine is back in a dugout and he's back to being Bobby Valentine. He sparked a feud with Kevin Youkilis over the weekend about Youk's mental and physical readiness. There have been rebuttals and apologies thrown around, but there's little question that Valentine's presence will make things more interesting in a town that doesn't need much kindling to spark a Red Sox scandal.