For most teams, a travel day does not normally spell much relief. However, with the Toronto making the trip to New York for a three-game set with the Yankees, having Monday off is more than welcome.
The Blue Jays are coming off of a 5-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, avoiding the three-game sweep in front of the home crowd. While the score makes it appear that the game was well in hand to a casual observer, the victory was a struggle for Toronto.
The Blue jays were without starting first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who was scratched from the original line-up with a sore toe on his right foot, injured while running the base paths in Saturday’s loss. They were also playing sans Yunel Escobar and Jeff Mathis, both of whom were sitting with flu-like symptoms. All three players were originally slated to start the game, putting the Jays in a position to make last minute changes to the line-up against a pitcher, in Jon Lester, who has dominated Toronto in the past.
To make matters worse, Lester was dealing through the first six innings of the game, having seemingly put his season-long struggles behind him during Sunday’s start. The Boston lefty had surrendered just 1 hit through the first 6-2/3rd innings. However, with two outs in the seventh frame, Yan Gomes reached on a single, pinch runner Rajai Davis stole second and scored on a hit-and-run single by Omar Vizquel, and rookie shortstop, Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a two-run home run to give Toronto a 3-0 lead. Lester would get out of the inning and leave after 7 innings pitched, but the damage had been dealt.
The Jays would add a pair of runs in the bottom of the 8th off of Daniel Bard to provide the final score of 5-0. Boston would threaten in the 8th, with Dustin Pedroia on third and Jacoby Ellsbury on first with 1 out in the inning, but Darren Oliver would get Cody Ross to ground into the inning-ending double play. It would be the only real threat Boston put up in the game.
Now, coming off the win in their final game against Boston in 2012, the Blue Jays can turn their attention to the Yankees and see what they can do to play the spoilers against the American League East leaders. The off day will be important in getting both Encarnacion and Escobar back in the line-up, as both have hit the Yankees solidly in 2012. Encarnacion has a .310 batting average and .941 OPS against the Bronx Bombers, while Escobar has produced at a .333 with a .961 OPS against New York.
And the Jays will want all the punch they can have in the line-up while playing in the band box that is Yankee Stadium.