I’m going to try and stay disciplined enough to review each Jays’ series this season (starting of course with the most recent one against the Mariners since I sort of missed the boat on the first three series of the year) and preview the upcoming one.
The Jays won the final game of their West Coast road trip to Anaheim and Seattle salvaging a 2-4 record and will now head east to take on the slow-starting Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The main focus for most on this road trip was the first game in Seattle on Monday night when the Jays built up a 7-0 lead against one of the best pitchers in baseball only to blow it in an 8-7 walk-off loss, but fret not fragile Jays’ fans, this sort of thing happens at least once or twice a year. I had grand plans to find the actually probability of it happening in hard numbers, but I simply don’t have the math skills, nor the information at the moment.
Toronto Blue Jays (6-6) @ Boston Red Sox (2-9)
All in all, the Jays’ 6-6 start is not bad and is probably right about at expectation. The Red Sox, on the other hand, come into this four-game set with Toronto holding baseball’s worst record at 2-9. Needless to say, the Red Sox have far too much talent to continue along this path and will eventually start winning, let’s just hope it’s not this weekend.
The first game of the set will feature Clay Buchholz for the Red Sox against Toronto left-hander Brett Cecil. After both pitchers had breakout seasons in 2010, most expect them to regress in 2011 and so far the numbers bear that out.
Both Buchholz and Cecil have identical 7.20 ERAs so far in 2011 and Buchholz, after surrendering only nine homeruns in all of last season, has already surrendered five this year.
The starting lineups for the teams are as follows
|Toronto Blue Jays|
Manager John Farrell, in his return to Fenway, elects to go with Nix over Encarnacion at third base tonight against Buchholz more than likely because E5 is 0 for 6 against the Boston righty in his career. Jose Bautista and Aaron Hill have both gone deep in their career against Buchholz, while Adam Lind has done so twice.
|Boston Red Sox|
Five of the Red Sox nine starters are hitting under .200 (Crawford, Scutaro, Youkilis, Saltalamacchia, and Ellsbury) and have a .230/.324/.348 slash line as a team. On the plus side for the BoSox, their current members are hitting a combined .382/.429/.724 against Cecil.
Gonzalez is also fresh off of signing his 7-year, $154-million contract extension, which some viewed as being a little low considering just how good Gonzalez is compared to Ryan Howard who signed a 5-year, $120-million contract with the Phillies.
The remaining three games probable starting matchups look like this:
Saturday: Jo-Jo Reyes vs. Josh Beckett
Sunday: Jesse Litsch vs. Jon Lester
Monday: Ricky Romero vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka
Boston clearly has the edge in the second and third games of the series and Monday’s matchup is interesting simply because Daisuke has been atrocious so far this year and there is some speculation that Boston could skip him and go straight to John Lackey because of their rain-out against the Rays on Wednesday coupled with an off-day yesterday.
For Toronto, reliever Frank Francisco is still out with his right pectoral injury and apparently has had trouble finding his velocity in a rehab stint with Dunedin, while starter Brandon Morrow is still rehabbing from elbow inflammation and understandably, the Jays are being very careful with their high-ceiling stud. Word is that Morrow is set to make at least one more rehab start in Dunedin before rejoining the team.
Earlier this week, Toronto placed centerfielder Rajai Davis on the DL with a nagging ankle injury and he will obviously miss this series, while Scott Podsednik’s plantar fasciitis doesn’t seem much closer to being better. At this point, I’d be very surprised to see Podsednik ever suit up with the Jays. Trust me, though, at this point in his career, it isn’t much of a loss. In the meantime, Corey Patterson (who’s been hot so far) will start in centerfield.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are almost entirely healthy with the exception of reliever Matt Albers who’s on the 15-day DL with a right latissimus strain. No, I don’t know what that is either, what am I a doctor?
In other roster news, the Jays sent down left-hander Brad Mills to AAA-Las Vegas after a two-game call-up where he was not used. After Toronto wasted their bullpen last week in a 15-inning marathon against the Angels and then the meltdown against the Mariners, they designated lefty David Purcey for assignment and demoted utility man Mike McCoy. In their stead, the Jays called up two relievers in Casey Janssen (who had just been sent down to make room for the returning Octavio Dotel) and Mills.
It was sort of expected (by me) that Farrell wanted eight relievers to get them through the rest of the series against Seattle and then they would send down one of those called up relievers and recall McCoy. It is being reported, however, that the Jays have instead called up another left-hander in Luis Perez.
This move doesn’t make a lot of sense as Toronto will go with an eight-man bullpen for the series against Boston. I understand the need for an extra lefty with the obvious left-handed talent in the Red Sox lineup, but going with a three-man bench for this long seems odd and so does the random two-day call-up of Mills.
Whatever, they don’t pay me to make the decisions. Not yet. Not yet.
Enjoy the series!