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Red Sox can have house in order for ALCS

Lester, Lackey likely to start Games 1-2 at Fenway Park this weekend

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Red Sox weren't merely celebrating the conquest of the Tampa Bay Rays. Instead, it was more about the excitement of what's to come.

The American League Championship Series starts on Saturday, and the venue is Fenway Park.

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By the end of Thursday night, the Red Sox will find out if they are playing the Tigers or the Athletics. Those two teams square off in Game 5 of the American League Division Series at 8 p.m. ET on TBS in Oakland.

"I'm assuming that the next opponent we have is going to be as tall a challenge as Tampa Bay is," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.

And just like prior to the ALDS, Farrell can set his rotation just as he wants it while his opponent won't have that luxury.

The Red Sox will probably go with the same rotation that led them to victory in the ALDS.

Look for Jon Lester and John Lackey to start Games 1 and 2 in Boston, followed by Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy in the first two road games.

"I don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but if that's the case, yeah, it goes back to what I said about the first one," said Lester. "It would be a great honor to be that guy. We'll see when we get there. Obviously it would be a great honor if that's the case."

From 2003-08, the Red Sox went to the ALCS four times in six years, but this will be their first trip back there since '08.

"It's pretty good," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "We're still on track to accomplish our goals, and that's the biggest thing. Got to get some rest and get ready for the next one."

Both of the possible opponents played the Red Sox tough this season. The Athletics split the six games against Boston, but the teams haven't seen each other since July 14.

The Tigers narrowly defeated the Sox in the season series, taking four out of seven.

Back in June, the Sox lost three out of four in Detroit, two of the losses coming down to the late innings.

In September, Boston took two out of three at Fenway and even beat AL Cy Young Award favorite Max Scherzer.

In the final meetings between the teams, the Sox walloped a franchise-tying eight homers in a game and won 20-4.

"These guys will have a much-deserved off-day tomorrow," Farrell said of his team. "Hopefully in short order we'll get that next opponent identified. As we've been doing all along, we'll be prepared when the next series starts."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.

Boston Red Sox, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia