The Boston Red Sox open their first series with the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre without David Price. This series will set the season’s tone.
This three-game series is very important to both teams, who want to get out to fast starts to their seasons for different reasons. The Blue Jays have the pressure of having to perform even better than last year, when they won the American League East championship, for the first time in front of their home fans. These fans haven’t seen playoff baseball like last season in a long while, and they have no intention of cheering for anything less. The Red Sox have the pressure of playing better than they did last season, finishing dead last in the division. Red Sox Nation has no intention of cheering for anything less than higher achievement than 2015.
With the new dirt infield in the Rogers Centre, much of baseball media will be covering the event as well. People in Toronto have been waiting a long time to see their home turf (no pun intended) to look and feel more like the rest of the league, while still playing in a domed facility during the colder months of the year in Canada. This new surface will get its first test tonight.
If the Red Sox want to reclaimed postseason glory, the Blue Jays will likely be their toughest challenge. Nothing like setting the tone early!
- Red Sox ace David Price will miss the opener against the young StroShow. Because of the terrible weather in Cleveland, Price had to miss his regular starting day in the rotation and had to pitch later in the week, forcing his next start to be the Red Sox’ home opener in Fenway Park on Monday.
- Kelly also missed his first start because of the weather, forcing him to pitch against Stroman. Kelly will be looking to continue his regular season success that he had at the end of 2015. In six spring training starts, Kelly pitched 24 innings, allowing seven runs, four of them home runs. He struck out 22 batters to only eight walks.
- Brock Holt, David Ortiz, and Mookie Betts have led the team with three RBIs apiece.
- Both the Blue Jays and the Red Sox are playing .500 ball at the moment, each team splitting their first series of the year.
- Blue Jays third baseman, and reigning A.L. MVP, Josh Donaldson had to leave the previous game early with an aggravated calf strain; however, reports are that he should be fine for this series.
- Estrada is notably coming off of the best season of his life but he is also coming off of the disabled list to make his first start. The Red Sox will want to jump on him early, if there are still some aching signs, as Wright’s knuckleball will undoubtedly bleed a few runs.
Red Sox: Mookie Betts
2016 season: .200/.200/.500, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 0 BB, 3 Ks
2015 season: .291/.341/.479
Career vs Blue Jays: .365/.408/.625
Career at Rogers Centre: .304/.350/.536
- It will be vital for the Red Sox to have their leadoff hitter get into a grove, and Betts’ history against the Blue Jays is an indicator that it could be a successful few days. Even in the Rogers Centre.
Blue Jays: Jose Bautista
2016 season: .333/.529/.500, 0 HRs, 0 RBIs, 5 BB, 5 Ks
2015 season: .250/.377/.536
Career at home: .279/.402/.574
Career vs Boston: .250/.350/.534
- Bautista has been noticeably quiet lately, in terms of production, even though it is very early. However, the home of the now-famous bat flip in last year’s playoffs may just be what he needs to get back into the proper swing of things.