Blue Jays-Red Sox Preview
Steven Wright is displaying an unusual amount of stamina for a guy in his first full season as a starter for the Boston Red Sox.
Most importantly, he's been efficient during those long outings.
The Toronto Blue Jays have come away with a victory in each of the first two times they've seen the knuckleballer, and they'll look to deal the Red Sox a season-high fourth consecutive defeat Saturday at Fenway Park.
Wright (5-4, 2.45 ERA) will be making his 11th start, matching the amount he made during brief stints with Boston (32-23) over the previous three years. He's shined in his opportunity to be in the rotation full-time and only seems to be getting stronger.
The right-hander threw a career-high 122 pitches in a four-hitter Monday, striking out seven and overcoming a season high-tying five walks to beat Baltimore 7-2. It was Wright's second complete game in three starts to tie him for the major league lead with three.
Prior to this season, he'd never thrown a complete game in the majors.
"To go nine innings against that lineup in this ballpark, an outstanding job," manager John Farrell said. "He was able to neutralize the top half of that lineup extremely well. … A good day for us, a big day for Steven."
Wright struggled a bit in the fifth, though, as he allowed both runs and three hits. He didn't panic, though.
"It's my (fourth) year doing it now," Wright said. "That's one thing we've really concentrated on, trying to stay with that delivery because it's all about staying relaxed and repeating that delivery."
Wright faced the Blue Jays (30-26) in his first two starts this season and lost both despite pitching well, giving up thee earned runs in 12 2/3 innings. The last on April 17 began a stretch where Toronto is 5-1 against the Red Sox after winning 5-2 on Friday.
Last Saturday's victory seemed unlikely after Marcus Stroman gave up seven runs - tying his career high set May 17 in a loss to Tampa Bay - and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings before Toronto rallied for a 10-9 win over Boston.
Stroman (5-1, 4.46) originally was scheduled to start Friday's series opener but was switched with R.A. Dickey without any explanation from the Blue Jays. Stroman won each of his first four starts against the Red Sox with a 1.26 ERA, but he's given up 12 runs in 10 2/3 innings in two against them this season.
Both of those starts, though, came at home, where he's 1-1 with a 6.39 ERA. Pitching on the road in this one could help him get back on track, as Stroman is 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA in five starts outside of Toronto.
Xander Bogaerts is 4 for 6 with a homer off Stroman this season, and he'll be looking to start a new hitting streak after having his 26-game run snapped Friday. The high-powered Boston offense was held to fewer than five runs for the first time in eight games.
The Red Sox's five hits were their fewest since having four on May 3. They've been limited to fewer than six just four times, with the Blue Jays doing it twice.
Toronto, meanwhile, is on a roll, having won four straight to improve to 11-3 since May 19. Edwin Encarnacion homered off former teammate David Price on Friday and is batting .364 during a six-game hitting streak.