Blue Jays-Red Sox Preview

The Boston Red Sox have been one of baseball’s most potent

run-scoring teams thanks to several big-name players who will

appear in next week’s Midsummer Classic.

In contrast, Jose Bautista – the Toronto Blue Jays’ lone

All-Star – has carried the team offensively for most of the


After ending interleague play in impressive fashion, the AL East

rivals open a three-game set Monday at Fenway Park.

Boston (49-34), which leads the majors in average (.274) and

ranks second with 5.23 runs per game, completed a three-game sweep

at Houston with Sunday’s 2-1 victory – its fourth straight against

the NL.

Josh Beckett, named to the AL squad along with teammates David

Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury, struck out a

season-best 11 over eight innings. Gonzalez went 0 for 3, but his

intentional free pass with men on first and third in the ninth

inning opened the door for Kevin Youkilis, who forced home the

go-ahead run with a walk of his own.

“That’s the nice thing about having a good lineup. We have good

hitters,” manager Terry Francona told “You always talk

about, ‘If they want to walk somebody, make them pay.’ I know Youk

got a walk, but (Gonzalez) is hitting (.350). That’s a tough


Gonzalez, whose average leads the AL, also has 16 homers and a

major-league leading 74 RBIs. While Gonzalez has done his damage as

part of a balanced lineup, some could argue Bautista’s line is more

impressive given the lack of help he’s gotten.

Baseball’s home run leader went 2 for 4 and connected on his

27th long ball – his third in as many games – as Toronto (41-44)

ended Cliff Lee’s 34-inning scoreless streak and snapped a

three-game skid with a 7-4 win over Philadelphia on Sunday.

Bautista’s 7,454,753 All-Star votes are the most recorded in the

history of fan balloting. He is just the ninth Blue Jay to be voted

into the game and first since Carlos Delgado in 2003.

“Obviously, I got off to a good start, and having been through

last year I knew I was going to be on everybody’s radar,” Bautista

said. “But it has been great. It has been a fun year.”

Adam Lind (16) and J.P. Arencibia (12) are the only other Blue

Jays with at least 10 homers, but rookie outfielder Eric Thames may

soon join them.

The promising 24-year-old, batting .410 over a nine-game hitting

streak, went deep for the third time in five days and will look to

carry over his momentum versus John Lackey (5-7, 6.81 ERA).

Lackey was tagged with the loss despite limiting Philadelphia to

two runs and eight hits over 7 2-3 innings of Wednesday’s 2-1

defeat at Citizens Bank Park. The right-hander, though, has

struggled in six starts at Fenway, where his 7.88 ERA is the worst

of any pitcher with at least 30 innings at home.

Bautista is 3 for 17 (.176) with two homers and five strikeouts

lifetime versus Lackey, but Lind is 12 for 21 (.571).

Lackey, 2-3 with an 8.83 ERA over his last six starts against

Toronto, will be opposed by fellow right-hander Brandon Morrow

(4-4, 4.56), who has gone 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA over his three most

recent outings.

Morrow, however, hasn’t had much success against the Red Sox. He

gave up career worsts of nine runs in 10 hits in just 4 1-3 innings

of a 16-4 loss to Lackey on June 11, dropping to 0-2 with a 12.38

ERA in four career start versus Boston.