Red Sox-Blue Jays Preview
Even with another big offensive performance in their last contest, the Boston Red Sox missed a chance to trim their deficit in the AL East. Facing Toronto's Ricky Romero might help them stay hot at the plate and bounce back from a disheartening defeat.
The Red Sox hope to continue their recent success against the left-hander and salvage a split of their four-game road set with the Blue Jays on Thursday night.
After pounding out 20 hits in a 14-0 win Tuesday to rebound from a 1-0, 11-inning loss in the series opener, Boston (85-57) didn't score quite enough in Wednesday's 11-10 loss to the Blue Jays. Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz each homered, but Daniel Bard could not hold a two-run lead as Toronto scored five times in the eighth to send the Red Sox to their sixth defeat in nine games.
Having ceded first place during its recent funk, Boston blew a chance to move within 1 1/2 games of New York on Wednesday. The Yankees remain 2 1/2 up on the Red Sox despite losing to Baltimore earlier in the day.
"It's tough on our team," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, whose club fell to 73-3 when leading after seven innings. "The whole idea is to win."
The Red Sox might have a good chance to get back on track against Romero (13-10, 2.97 ERA), who has allowed 11 runs, 17 hits and eight walks in 8 2-3 innings while losing his two starts against them this season.
Both of those outings were at Fenway Park, but Romero is 0-3 with a 10.62 ERA in five career home starts versus Boston, with the Blue Jays losing all of them.
Toronto won eight straight Romero starts from July 21-Aug. 29, with Romero going 6-0 with a 2.11 ERA, but he allowed five runs in 6 2-3 innings of Saturday's 6-4 loss to the Yankees. His previous loss had also come against New York on July 16.
"I thought I did a pretty good job of battling," Romero told the Blue Jays' official website last weekend.
Ortiz, 10 for 26 with five doubles and one homer versus Romero, has hit .481 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in his last 21 games overall. Ellsbury, 7 for 17 with two doubles and a homer against Romero, had four hits with three RBIs on Wednesday and is batting .360 during a 12-game hitting streak.
Boston hopes scheduled starter Andrew Miller (6-2, 5.27) is better in this outing than he was Friday, when he allowed six runs and walked four in just 1 1-3 innings of a 10-0 loss to Texas. The left-hander had yielded one run and six hits over 11 2-3 innings while winning his previous two starts.
"The game sped up and I didn't handle it well," Miller said. "I can't remember the last time I did something like that."
Miller has never started versus Toronto, and his lone relief appearance against the Blue Jays came with Detroit in 2006.
Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion, who has a hit in two at-bats versus Miller, picked up three of his five RBIs Wednesday with a bases-loaded double in the eighth. Teammate Jose Bautista went 1 for 2 with two walks and two RBIs as the Blue Jays (71-72) won for the second time in six games.
The Red Sox have outscored Toronto 68-34 at Rogers Centre this year, but they're just 4-4 there.