BOSTON — It was only a week ago that the Boston Red Sox traveled to Toronto with the Blue Jays still having an outside chance at getting back into the American League wild-card race.
Three nights later, the Blue Jays were done.
The Red Sox swept the three-game series, leaving Toronto for dead. The wins lifted Boston’s 2017 record against the Blue Jays to 10-3.
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The teams still have two more series to play, both at Fenway Park. One of those sets starts Monday night when Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello looks to continue his season turnaround against left-hander J.A. Happ in the opener.
The three-game series that opens a nine-game homestand for Boston.
The two veteran pitchers faced each other last week in Toronto, Porcello going 6 2/3 innings and allowing one run to finish off a 5-1 month.
Happ (6-10, 3.96 ERA) also pitched well, yielding one run on four hits in six innings but taking his second loss to the Red Sox this season after coming into 2017 with a 5-1 lifetime mark against Boston. He is 2-1 with a 3.90 ERA in six games — five starts — at Fenway Park.
Porcello (9-15, 4.45 ERA) is 8-8 with a 4.50 ERA lifetime against the Blue Jays.
Toronto snapped the Orioles seven-game winning streak on Thursday and split the four-game series at Baltimore over the weekend. The Blue Jays have dropped seven of their past 10 to fall 8 1/2 games off the wild-card pace and drop to 63-74 on the season.
Toronto suffered their 12th walk-off loss of the season Sunday, falling 5-4 to Baltimore on Mark Trumbo’s game-ending hit.
“I didn’t know it was that many,” said Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who filled in for manager John Gibbons for the second straight day. “But it also shows that we’re in games and we compete for those nine innings or however many innings it takes.”
The Jays didn’t know if Gibbons, who was in Texas taking care of personal business, would return in time for the Monday game at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox just finished playing 10 games in 23 days against the New York Yankees, losing three of four over the weekend in the Bronx. Their 9-2 loss Sunday night left their American League East lead at 3 1/2 games over New York.
Struggling Xander Bogaerts sat out his third straight game Sunday night, Boston manager John Farrell saying pregame he expects the shortstop back on Monday.
“We hope he’s back in the lineup tomorrow,” Farrell said Sunday. “With the left-hander Happ going in the first game against Toronto, we felt today was an additional day he needed to get past some of the physical things he’s been dealing with and by design some down time.
“So hopefully he can collect himself and be the offensive player he’s been for a long time.”
The problem with Bogaerts coming back into the lineup Monday is that he is just 1-for-18 (.056) lifetime against Happ, one of many Red Sox players with lifetime troubles against Happ.
Rajai Davis is 1-for-13 (.077), Jackie Bradley Jr. 1-for-12 (.083), Mookie Betts 4-for-23 (.174), Dustin Pedroia 7-for-32 (.219) and Brock Holt 2-for-9 (.222) vs. Happ. Mitch Moreland and Andrew Benintendi are both 0-for-5.
The current Boston roster is hitting a collective .196 against Happ — — although rookie Rafael Devers did go 2-for-3 against Happ last week.
On the other side, Jose Bautista, always a threat at Fenway, is 16-for-45 (.356) with four homers and 11 RBIs against Porcello, while Josh Donaldson is 10-for-33 (.303) and Kevin Pillar 10-for-30 (.333) with a homer. Michael Saunders is just 1-for-16 (.063), Kendrys Morales 6-for-33 (.182) with a homer and Ryan Goins 3-for-16 (.188).
Donaldson, who went deep again Sunday, is the hottest home run hitter in the American League with 10 long balls in his past 20 games and 16 in his past 34.