Red Sox Take On Surging Blue Jays In Big Pre-Summer Tilt

May 24, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) talks with home plate umpire James Hoye (92) against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) talks with home plate umpire James Hoye (92) against the New York Yankees during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox could make a big statement in the division, before the summer heat, if they can win the three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Boston Red Sox (29-18) fly into the Rogers Centre to take on the Toronto Blue Jays (24-25) for a series that will dictate much of what the standings will look like, come July.

The Red Sox have a successful 11-8 away record and, while the Blue Jays have only a 9-13 home record, Toronto’s starting rotation has been giving them many quality outings to keep pace with the rest of the division. The Blue Jays are 5-5 in the last 10 games, winners of two straight ballgames including a 3-1 victory over the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium. Some experts would have picked the Yankee relievers to shut the Blue Jays down, but it was Toronto’s much-maligned bullpen which shut the Bronx Bombers out.

With the Balitmore Orioles at Oriole Park being the next stop after this weekend, the Red Sox will want to keep the offensive fires burning against the Blue Jays. The Orioles are in a bit of a tailspin, losing four straight games and sit two games back of the American League East lead that Boston controls. The Blue Jays are six games back and are looking to make a push up the standings.

If the Red Sox wish to put both teams out of the running, this series may be the start of that movement.

Pitching Matchups

Friday, May 27 @ 7:07 PM: Joe Kelly (2-0, 5.28 ERA) vs Aaron Sanchez (4-1, 3.20 ERA)

Saturday, May 28 @ 1:07 PM: Rick Porcello (7-2, 3.47 ERA) vs Marcus Stroman (5-1, 3.89 ERA)

Sunday, May 29 @ 1:07 PM: David Price (7-1, 5.34 ERA) vs R.A. Dickey (2-6, 4.60 ERA)

Series Notes

  • While Kelly may have recently found his game after making his way back from the disabled list, he will also find Sanchez to be a tough opponent to outduel on the mound. Except for two games where he allowed six runs each, Sanchez has imposed his right-handed will on his opponents, holding them to 1.28 runs per game. The kid can throw the ball hard, just like Kelly, so it will be interesting who buckles first.
  • Jackie Bradley Jr. had his hit streak end last night, but looks to start a new one against the Blue jays.
  • Excluding Steven Wright, the Porcello vs. StroShow matchup may involve the best two pitchers on their respective teams. Both pitchers are reaching into the deeper innings, allowing for their stronger bullpen relievers and closers to take care of the rest. With Boston’s bullpen posting a 3.01 ERA, look for the Red Sox to try to take advantage of the Blue Jays’ bullpen (3.81) to win the game in the late innings.
  • The last matchup makes the ERA stat irrelevant. In his last three starts, Price has allowed a combined six runs in 21 innings. While Dickey used his knuckleball to blank the Texas Rangers in eight innings, his next two starts proved fatal for four runs apiece, making for two losses in a row. If the Red Sox jump on Dickey early, the Blue Jays’ struggling offense may not be able to dig Dickey out of the hole that he puts them into to start the game.

Key Hitters

Red SoxDavid Ortiz

2016 Season (43 Games): .337/.420/.706, 12 HR, 45 RBI

More from David Ortiz

Big Papi definitely is not looking like a man closing in on retirement. In the last seven games, he’s hitting .500 with six doubles, two home runs, and 11 RBIs. He leads the team in RBI production and swinging his bat more like Thor and his hammer, making it rain on the competition. In his career at the Rogers Centre, Ortiz has hit 39 homers and 104 RBIs in 120 games, treating Toronto’s home field like it’s his own, personal launching pad for pitches.

Blue Jays: Jose Bautista

2016 Season (49 Games): .238/.379/.494, 10 HR, 34 RBI

Josh Donaldson is normally called the ‘Bringer of Rain’, but he’s only hitting .200 in his last seven games. Much like Ortiz, the face of the Blue Jays franchise has been dictating attention, good as well as bad. Where Bautista goes, so too does Toronto.

In his last seven games, Bautista is hitting .333 with three homers and six RBIs, dodging pitches and cruel tags, even to the face, wherever he goes. It seems that the now-infamous punch from Rougned Odor actually was the best thing to happen to Bautista, as it seems to have inspired his bat to look less limp, as of late. The rest of the A.L. East, including the Red Sox, must not be too happy with Odor and the Rangers now.