Edwin Encarnacion is in the midst of a torrid stretch – and the skidding Boston Red Sox are finding themselves on the wrong end of it.
The Toronto Blue Jays hope Encarnacion’s power surge continues as they try to wrap up their third series sweep at Fenway Park since the start of 2012 on Thursday.
Encarnacion has homered seven times in his last six games and twice in each of first two of this series after connecting for his 12th and 13th home runs in Wednesday’s 6-4 victory. He’s the first player to record four two-homer games in a month since Troy Tulowitzki in September 2010.
The third baseman hit two homers in his first 32 contests but has 11 and 21 RBIs in his past 15. He’s also driven in 14 runs in his last 13 matchups with Boston, with 10 extra-base hits.
"He’s a dangerous hitter with tremendous power," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "You make mistakes, he makes you pay."
Encarnacion is 8 for 39 (.205) with two home runs off scheduled Thursday starter Jon Lester. However, he came into Wednesday’s game at 1 for 21 against Clay Buchholz before homering twice off of him.
The Blue Jays (25-22) may not need another big game from Encarnacion with Mark Buehrle (7-1, 2.11 ERA) on the mound, though Boston is responsible for his lone loss this season. The left-hander will take aim at a major league-leading eighth win – Los Angeles’ Zack Greinke will also go for his eighth victory Thursday – a mark Buehrle didn’t reach last year until Aug. 10 in his 24th start.
Buehrle has been especially dominant away from home, going 4-0 with a 1.25 ERA in five outings. He yielded two runs over 6 2-3 innings in a 4-2 win at Texas on Saturday, not getting the decision.
Boston, however, reached him for a season-worst six earned runs and 12 hits in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-1 win April 25. Buehrle has gone 8-10 with a 4.53 ERA in 24 career starts against Boston.
The Red Sox (20-25) have scored 14 runs during a six-game slide – their longest since dropping eight in a row to end the 2013 season. A loss Thursday would leave them with their first winless homestand of at least six games since going 0-6 from June 10-15, 1994.
Boston’s starting pitchers have also played a major role in the losing streak, posting a 6.68 ERA and failing to complete more than six innings in any game.
Lester (4-5, 2.67) supplied the best performance in that stretch, allowing a run and four hits over five innings of a 1-0 loss to Detroit on Friday. The Red Sox managed three hits.
The right-hander was limited to a season-low 94 pitches, largely due to a 47-minute rain delay in the fourth inning.
Lester yielded four runs over seven innings of a 7-1 loss at Toronto on April 27. He was 4-0 with a 2.55 ERA in six starts against the Blue Jays last season.
Jose Bautista is 11 for 57 (.193) with 12 strikeouts against Lester, though four of those hits were homers.
Dustin Pedroia is 14 for 36 (.389) against Buehrle.