Red Sox try for three-game sweep of Blue Jays (Jul 02, 2017)

BY AP • July 1, 2017

TORONTO -- The Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays say similar things when they talk about finally getting their acts together.

The difference is they are talking from opposite ends of the American League East standings.

The Red Sox (46-35) are first and the Blue Jays (37-43) are last.

"It's going to be fun when we get going," said Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale, who struck out 11 in seven innings Saturday in the 7-1 victory over the Blue Jays. "It says a lot about our guys and our team that we've battled through some things schedule-wise, injury-wise and things like that. When we start putting it together, it's going to be a scary thing."

The Red Sox will be going for a three-game sweep Sunday in the series finale at the Rogers Centre.

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz (7-4, 3.81 ERA) will start for Boston with right-hander Joe Biagini (2-7. 4.50) going for Toronto.

The Red Sox are 11 games above .500 for the first time this season. They have won five of their past six games.

"We haven't hit our stride yet," Red Sox bench coach Gary DiSarcina said. "We're still waiting on that."

DiSarcina ran the team Saturday in place of manager John Farrell, who was in Kansas City to watch his son, Luke, make his major league debut. The right-hander started the first game of a doubleheader for the Royals against the Minnesota Twins, allowing five runs in 2 2/3 innings of Kansas City's 11-6 comeback victory.

Farrell will be back in Toronto for the game Sunday.

The Blue Jays are assured of losing both series over their six-game homestand. They lost two of three to Baltimore before falling 7-4 in 11 innings Friday and 7-1 on Saturday before a sellout crowd on Canada Day.

Toronto has scored 10 runs in its past five games and has won one of them. The Blue Jays are 2-6 in their past eight home games.

Yet, the Blue Jays continue to talk about shifting into gear and contending.

"There's a lot of optimism," said Darwin Barney, who played third base Saturday and was 1-for-4. "Guys still believe in the club and who we have here. Nobody's thinking that things aren't going to work out for us. I feel like at this point that, obviously, the clock is ticking on the season but we feel like the men in here have the ability to make a run."

The Blue Jays have based their hope on the parity they see in the American League.

"There's a lot of parity right now, especially in the East and the teams are going to beat up on each other a little bit so the way we look at it is put a good stretch together and anything can happen," Barney said. "Last year after Canada Day (when they lost in 19 innings), I think we won 11 in a row after that. Anything can happen.

"We win 11 in a row we're right back in the hunt and we're not even that far out of the wild card if you look at the numbers. I don't think guys are hanging their heads in here. We want to come out, be optimistic and try and play the way that we know we can."

Biagini will make his 11th start of the season, and of his career, Sunday. The question is how long he will remain in the rotation when RHP Aaron Sanchez (right middle finger) returns from the disabled list.

Biagini might be best out of the bullpen at this stage.

"I think he dominates out of the 'pen," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Come in there, one or two innings. Pitch just a couple of innings, your velocity is better and you get used more. But I think he has done a nice job, too, as a starter. I think eventually if he stays in that starting role, he'll end up using the wind-up a little bit. I think he has proven that he can do both of them.

"For the first time starting, he has taken his lumps here and there, but he's still learning how to do it at this level."

Biagini was 1-4 with a 5.88 ERA in five starts in June. He is 2-6 with a 4.93 ERA in 10 starts. As a reliever, he is 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA in 74 career outings.

This will be his first start against the Red Sox. In 11 career relief outings against Boston, he is 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA.

Pomeranz will be trying to make it two wins in a row Sunday.

He is 4-1 with a 2.66 ERA over his past eight starts dating to May 20 and has 50 strikeouts, 11 walks and an opponents' batting average of .257 over 44 innings during that span. In five starts in June, he was 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA.

He is 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in four career appearances (two starts) against the Blue Jays.



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