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Playoff Preview? Red Sox Open 4-Game Set Against Rangers

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Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon celebrates a save with catcher Jason Varitek. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon celebrates a save with catcher Jason Varitek. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – The Red Sox open a four-game series with the Rangers in Texas on Monday in what could be a preview of the AL Divisional Series.

With the Red Sox half-a-game behind the Yankees in the AL East, a series with the Rangers would be on tap if the playoffs started today. And that would be bad news for Boston.

The Red Sox started off the 2011 season dropping three games to the Rangers, getting outscored 26-11 in Arlington with the Rangers blasting 11 home runss. The Red Sox are just 2-10 in Texas the last three years, and 5-17 against the Rangers overall in that span.

The two teams play seven games against each other over the next two weeks.

The Red Sox will have to face Rangers ace C.J. Wilson (12-5, 3.25 ERA) Monday night, who is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA against Boston in four career starts. In 16 games against Boston, the Texas lefty has held the Red Sox to a .172 batting average.

Read: Ellsbury, Ortiz Could Return Soon

Wilson will be opposed by Erik Bedard, who has not beat the Rangers his last seven times out. He is 1-2 with a 5.81 ERA against Texas in five starts.

Both teams feature top offenses in the American League, although the Red Sox will be without Kevin Youkilis (back) and David Ortiz (right heel). Boston is tops in the AL in average at .278 with Texas second at .277. The Rangers are first in hits (1,238) while the Sox come in second (1,227). Boston is second in the league in runs and home runs, with the Rangers third in both categories.

Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler is batting just .244 this season, but torched the Sox with a four-for-10, three homer series to start the season. Right fielder Nelson Cruz also hit three homers against the Sox.

There is a chance Ortiz could return by the end of the series, but will not be determined until the Sox DH can run the bases.

Toucher & Rich: Peter Abraham On Sox-Rangers Series

Boston will likely have Dustin Pedroia batting cleanup in Youkilis’ absence. Pedroia is batting .381 for the Red Sox out of the four-spot, with 16 hits, three homers and driving in eight runs. In 15 career games at cleanup, Pedroia is batting .439 with a slugging percentage of .803, clubbing five homers and driving in 15 runs.

Pitching Matchups For 4-Game Set In Texas

  • Monday 8:05pm

Erik Bedard (4-8, 3.44 ERA) vs C.J. Wilson (12-5, 3.20 ERA)

  • Tuesday 8:05 pm

John Lackey (11-9, 6.02) vs Colby Lewis (11-8, 3.83)

  • Wednesday 8:05 pm

Josh Beckett (10-5, 2.46) vs Matt Harrison (10-8, 3.28)

  • Thursday 8:05 pm

Andrew Miller (5-1, 4.99) vs Alexi Ogando (12-5, 3.30)

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