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Red Sox to kick off 2011 campaign in Arlington

Red Sox to kick off 2011 campaign in Arlington

With the current season not unfolding quite as the Red Sox or their fans would have preferred, there is now an opportunity to take a look toward 2011, when injured stars will be healthy again and there are sure to be some impactful new faces on the squad.

Boston will start next season's 162-game grind earlier than in years past -- on April 1, on the road against the Rangers. After three games in Arlington, the Sox will complete their six-game journey with a series in Cleveland.

And for the second year in a row, the Fenway slate will start with a rivalry showdown against the Yankees. Boston's home opener always takes on a festive feel, and the presence of the Bronx Bombers will only intensify that. The Yankees will be at Fenway from April 8-10.

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For the Red Sox, there will be no easing in on the season's first homestand. Once the Yankees leave, the Rays come to town for a three-game set. And the 10-game homestand concludes with a four-game series against another American League East opponent, the Toronto Blue Jays. The latter of those games against Toronto is the annual Patriots Day contest, which starts at 11 a.m. ET.

When the Sox start Interleague Play, the first matchup will be one of the most compelling in the Majors. For the first time since 1918, the Chicago Cubs will come to Fenway Park. That three-game series will be played from May 20-22. Who would have thought that the Cubs would still not have another World Series championship since losing to the Sox in that 1918 Fall Classic? The Cubs last won it all in 1908. The Red Sox snapped their epic championship drought in 2004, winning for the first time in 86 years.

Once the Cubs leave town, Boston will go back to American League foes for about a month. But on June 17, a former American League franchise, the Milwaukee Brewers, will come to Fenway for the first time since 2008. The Padres will visit from June 20-22, and that will be a reunion of sorts, as Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino used to serve in that role for San Diego and general manager Theo Epstein began his front-office career as an assistant general manager for the Padres.

The Red Sox will get all of their road matchups with NL foes out of the way on one road trip. Boston goes to Pittsburgh for the first time since 2003, taking on the Pirates from June 24-26. In what has become an annual event, the Sox then go to Philadelphia for three games, beginning on June 28. And the nine-game road trip will end with three games at Minute Maid Park in Houston, a venue the Sox visited in 2008.

As always, there will be great attention and intensity every time Boston plays the Yankees. The Sox will make their first visit to Yankee Stadium May 13-15. They again go to the Bronx June 7-9.

The Yankees have a long time between visits to Boston, as they don't return to Fenway until Aug. 5, when a three-game series commences. New York again comes to Boston Aug. 30-Sept. 1. And the rivals square off for the final time of the season from Sept. 23-25 in the Bronx. Just as the season begins earlier than in recent years, it also ends earlier. The Red Sox close out the year with a three-game set at Camden Yards Sept. 26-28 in what they hope will be a tuneup for the postseason.

The Sox go to the West Coast for the first time from April 19-24, when they play two games in Oakland and four in Anaheim against the Angels. There is only one other trip to the Pacific time zone for Boston in 2011, and it comes Aug. 12-14 in a three-game set at Safeco Field against the Mariners. That is the end of a seven-game road trip that starts with four in Minnesota.

The last few years, Boston's matchups with the Rays have become as important as the meetings with the Yankees. The Sox go to Tropicana Field June 14-16 and also immediately after the All-Star break, July 15-17. The Rays come to Fenway for a two-gamer from Aug. 16-17. Boston goes back to Tropicana Field for what could be a critical showdown from Sept. 9-11. And the Rays come to Fenway for a four-game set from Sept. 15-18.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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