Series Preview: Boston Red Sox (71-49) at Toronto Blue Jays (54-64)


August 4, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mark Buehrle (56) pitches during the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

That’s right, this time around I am refusing to place the official place in the standings that the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays occupy. My assumption is that most Blue Jays fans reading this preview are well aware of our current place of residence in the cellar of the American League East, and they likely would prefer to avoid any further mention of it.

That all said, this is one of only two remaining series between the Red Sox and Blue Jays this season, and I’m sure that Toronto fans would like nothing more than to watch their team make it more difficult for Boston to pull away from Tampa Bay in the division.

It’s a tall task to say the least, but here is how Toronto will stack up with Boston this time around, hoping to sneak a series win out of the deal.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Game 1: Todd Redmond (1-1, 4.22 ERA) vs Ryan Demptster (6-8, 4.67 ERA)
Game 2: Josh Johnson (2-8, 6.20 ERA) vs Jon Lester (10-7, 4.37 ERA)
Game 3: Mark Buehrle (8-7, 4.43 ERA) vs Jake Peavy (9-4, 4.50 ERA)

In game 1, it’s a match-up of right-handers, with Todd Redmond taking the mound for Toronto and Ryan Dempster getting the call for Boston. Redmond will be making his sixth start of the year for the Blue Jays, and was one of the few Toronto pitchers lucky enough to have avoided the Red Sox thus far. On the other side of the hill, Dempster has faced Toronto three times this season, and the results are split. He’s sandwiched a 6-run start on May 12th between throwing six innings of 1-run ball against the Blue Jays on May 2nd and 2-earned over 5.1 innings on June 30th.

Game 2 will feature two nemesis (or is it nemesi?) in Jon Lester and Josh Johnson. No need to elaborate on that statement in Johnson’s regard, and Lester’s exploits against Toronto are pretty well documented as well. For those looking to punish themselves, the Boston lefty is 14-7 with a 3.67 ERA against Toronto over the course of his career, and has a mark of 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in 2013 against the good guys.

The series finale will see a bit of a change. De Facto ace Mark Buehrle takes the mound for the Blue Jays and will look to provide his steady, if not spectacular pitching in the shortest time span allowable. He’ll be opposed by Jake Peavy, Boston’s big theft at the trade deadline. Peavy has not faced Toronto this season, but owns a lifetime mark of 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA over 5 career starts against the Blue Jays.

Probable Lineups

Toronto Blue Jays
1. SS: Jose Reyes
2. LF: Rajai Davis
3. RF: Jose Bautista
4. 1B: Edwin Encarnacion
5. DH: Adam Lind
6. 3B: Brett Lawrie
7. CF: Colby Rasmus / Emilio Bonifacio
8. C: J.P. Arencibia
9. 2B: Maicer Izturis

Boston Red Sox
1. CF: Jacoby Ellsbury
2. RF: Shane Victorino
3. 2B: Dustin Pedroia
4. DH: David Ortiz
5. LF: Daniel Nava
6. 1B: Mike Napoli
7. SS: Stephen Drew
8. C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
9. 3B: Will Middlebrooks

Both the Blue Jays and the Red Sox feature formidable line-ups that should make for some fireworks in this series. Key players to keep your eyes one:

Brett Lawrie – Lawrie is hitting .432 over his last 12 games with a 1.104 OPS. After waiting all season for him to turn it on, he appears to be doing so.

Jacoby Ellsbury – The Red Sox center-fielder is making his push for a paycheck, hitting .302 with a .865 OPS over the last 12 contests.

Jose Bautista/David Ortiz – Joey Bats is not to be outdone. Bautista is at .356 with a 1.041 OPS over his last 12.

Final Word

It’s going to be extremely tough for Toronto to take this series, given both the recent performance of the club and the state of mind that they’ve been floating in nearly all season. That said, if the bats can get cooking, they might have a chance, as Toronto has better odds of winning a slug-fest than coming out on top of a pitchers’ duel.

At the end of the day, they are going to need Redmond to step up and keep the Boston line-up in check, Buehrle to keep his team in the game, and Johnson to, well, show up. As much as I want to give them a fighting chance to say they’ll take two of three, having to face both Lester and Peavy is going to be a tall task to overcome.

But hey, bring your “Bring Back The Dome” placards!