Red Sox-Blue Jays preview
TORONTO -- The Boston Red Sox can make sure they will return home with the American League East lead with one more win at Rogers Centre this weekend.
They can also open up some daylight in the division with a win Saturday in the middle encounter of a three-game series with the second-place Toronto Blue Jays.
The Red Sox opened a two-game lead over the Blue Jays Friday with a 13-3 romp at Rogers Centre.
The Baltimore Orioles also lost Friday and are three games behind the Red Sox.
The Red Sox return to Fenway Park Monday to open a three-game series with the Orioles.
"In any series you play, the first game is pivotal," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We were able to do it tonight. We're all sitting here with 22 games to play. Every team is the team to beat right now."
The Blue Jays offered little resistance in losing their fourth game in a row, committing two errors that did not give a real indication of how poorly they played in the field.
"Overall it was a blah, not a very well-played game," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It was uncharacteristic and we'll just put it behind us. We haven't played good baseball over the last week."
The game Friday was the opener of a six-game homestand for the Blue Jays, who completed a 3-6 road trip to Baltimore, Tampa Bay and New York, where they were swept in three games by the Yankees.
Marco Estrada, who allowed four runs (three earned) in 2 1/3 innings in his shortest start of the season, needed all the defensive help he could get and got none.
"Nothing went our way today and obviously it started with me," Estrada said. "When your starting pitcher is out there making a bunch of pitches like that, it brings everybody down a little bit. I've got to get quick outs, this can't keep happening. We're in a tight race."
The Red Sox got another good start from Rick Porcello, who held Toronto to two runs in seven innings to become the first 20-game winner in the majors this season.
The teams appear to be going in different directions.
"We had some good fortune on our side and were able to take advantage of some miscues on their part," Farrell said. "You give a team extra outs and it's probably going to come back to haunt you a little bit."
The Blue Jays' play has been alarming to their fans and J.A. Happ (17-4, 3.44 ERA) will try to turn things around Saturday when he goes for his 18th win of the season and his first since Aug. 17.
Happ is 0-1 with a 6.43 earned-run average in three starts since his last win.
He did not factor into the decision Sunday in a 5-3 Toronto win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Happ allowed six hits and three runs in 2 2/3 innings in that outing, his shortest since May 16.
In 11 career games, including 10 starts, Happ is 4-3 with a 3.81 ERA against the Red Sox. This season the left-hander is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in one start against them.
The Red Sox will counter with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (2-6, 4.83 ERA).
In nine starts since the All-Star break, Rodriguez has an ERA of 2.73 and has allowed three or fewer earned runs in eight of those outings. In his past five starts, he is 0-2 with a 2.83 ERA. He allowed five runs, four hits and three walks against the Blue Jays on June 5.