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Brace Yourselves

Coming off a squeaky sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, it's time for the Sox to gird their loins and welcome in the American League's best team and their personal nemesis. Starting tonight with a Josh Beckett against the surprising Nate Robinson and the Detroit Tigers. After that, it's two more against Detroit and then five against the Bombers on what should be called "ESPN Weekend."

Without a doubt, this is the toughest stretch the Red Sox have faced this season. Not only have their opponents been hot recently, but the matchups are also coming at a time when the roster is riddled with injured players and both the division and wild card races are incredibly tight.

Success during this upcoming week is going to lean most heavily on one thing: starting pitching. The bullpen has been spotty in both close games and blowouts and the offense has been bipolar. The Wells start on Friday night against the Birds was a textbook definition of "just what the doctor ordered", and against the successful pitching of Detroit and the Yankees' Playstation lineup, the Sox starters need to be on top of their game.

A week from tonight, the Sox could be sitting pretty or down for the count. It's gut check time for the Olde Towne Team.