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
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 MLB.com. “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
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.