The road trip shifts to Texas for a three-game series. Here are the lineups:
RED SOX (66-50)
Pitching: RHP Josh Beckett (3-2, 6.21)
Pitching: RHP Tommy Hunter (9-1, 3.01)
Game time: 8:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN, MLBN/WEEI
State of the Sox: Things were downright cheery until the bottom of the ninth inning yesterday when Jonathan Papelbon ripped the guts out of a win streak. Nonetheless, the Sox are 4-3 on their road trip and have won three of the last four games.
They start the day six back in the division and three back in the wild card.
Texas tangle: This is the third series of the year against the Rangers. The Sox are 3-4 against the Rangers.
Lack of killer instinct: The Red Sox have taken the first two games of a three-game series 13 times this season. But only five times have they finished off the sweep.
Beckett's back: Josh Beckett is 2-1, 4.26 in four starts since coming off the disabled list. He allowed seven runs on 11 hits in 4.2 innings against the Yankees in his last start. Beckett is 2-2, 4.82 in six career starts against Texas but 2-1, 2.25 at Arlington. He faced the Rangers on April 21 and allowed seven runs on seven hits in seven innings.
Beware of Hunter: Tommy Hunter is 7-1, 7.53 in three career starts against the Sox but allowed two runs over 6.2 innings on July 15.
They meet again: Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton and Beckett were the first picks of the 1999 draft. To give you an idea of how hard it is to project MLB stardom, the next six picks were Eric Munson, Corey Myers, B.J. Garbe, Josh Gridley, Kyle Snyder and Bobby Bradley.
Taking over: The sale of the Rangers to a group led by Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg was approved Thursday by MLB owners.
Other stuff: Victor Martinez has hit safely in 10 straight games at 12 of 40. ... The Sox are 6-2 in games Mike Lowell has played in since he came off the disabled list. ... Marco Scutaro is hitless in his last 20 at-bats. ... The Sox are 33-29 in games decided by one or two runs.
On the iPod right now: T Is for Texas by Johnny Cash.
Stay with Extra Bases for pre-game notes and I'll be back for an in-game blog.