The Boston Red Sox admitted last week that R.A. Dickey’s knuckleballer can be tough to decipher.
An exception for them to that this year has been Xander Bogaerts, who was just given a rest as he works through some issues with his swing.
Dickey tries again to baffle the Red Sox, who will likely have Bogaerts back in the lineup Monday night at home against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Toronto (56-50) took three of four from Boston last week to improve to 7-3 in the season series, with Dickey (8-10, 4.04 ERA) beating Clay Buchholz in last Wednesday’s 6-4 victory. Those two starters will meet again in the opener of this three-game set.
Dickey allowed a three-run homer in the first inning to David Ortiz before yielding one run over his final five innings to improve to 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts against the Red Sox (48-57) this year. He has one walk and 11 strikeouts in those outings.
"That knuckleball is so unpredictable," said Boston first baseman Mike Napoli, who is 2 for 6 off Dickey this year. "We had it going early then he kind of shut us down."
Ortiz is 5 for 15 in his career against Dickey, who has started at Fenway Park once – a complete game in a 5-2 loss Sept. 22. But Ortiz is 1 for 3 against the right-hander this year, which pales in comparison to how Bogaerts has gone 4 for 6 with two doubles.
Boston manager John Farrell gave Bogaerts the day off from Sunday’s 3-2 win at Tampa Bay. The third baseman is hitting .142 over his last 28 games.
"(He’s) trying to keep some momentum going with the adjustments he’s continuing to work on daily," Farrell told MLB’s official website. "We’ve seen it gain a little traction inside of a given game, but occasionally there’s some reversion back to him being a little bit quick to the front side – some of the same challenges that he’s been facing for some time now."
Bogaerts’ .333 career average against Toronto is his highest against any AL club.
Buchholz (5-6, 5.50) looks to recover after he lost for the first time in three starts Wednesday, allowing five runs in six innings. He walked four and struck out one.
"I let that lead go," Buchholz said. "I’ll take the blame for this one, for sure."
The Blue Jays have won the last five times he has started against them at Fenway, with the right-hander going 0-3 with a 4.18 ERA in that span. Buchholz is 1-2 with a 5.60 ERA in three outings against Toronto this year.
It’s unclear if Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind, out since July 7 with a broken foot, will be activated. He’s a .348 hitter off Buchholz.
Jose Reyes is 13 for 39 in his last nine games, scoring one run in each of his last six.
The Blue Jays took the final two games of a three-game set at Yankee Stadium, winning 5-4 on Sunday. The Red Sox ended a five-game slide Sunday, as Ortiz homered for the fifth time in seven games.