The Blue Jays have spelled trouble for the Red Sox all season long and Boston will be looking to avoid a seventh straight loss in Toronto tonight (7:07 p.m.) when Paul Byrd and Shaun Marcum face each other in the start of a three-game series at the Rogers Centre.
The Red Sox have 35 games left to play in the season, they trail the Rays by 4 1/2 games in the AL East and are locked in a battle with the Twins in the wild card race. Against the Blue Jays the season, the Sox are an underwhelming 2-6, and they’ll have to face Jays 10 more times before the ’08 campaign is complete. Boston was outscored by Toronto 23-9 over a three-game series sweep by the Jays in April and averaged only 2.1 runs per game versus the Blue Jays, easily their lowest against any team they’ve faced this season. Toronto leads the American League in team ERA (3.61), starting pitching (3.86), and relief pitching (3.01)
Newly-acquired Paul Byrd (7-11, 4.55 ERA) will be making his second start for the Red Sox, and his third in a row vs. the Blue Jays. After throwing a six-hitter in Toronto to win 4-2 on Aug. 9, Byrd lost to them in Boston last Saturday, allowing four runs and 10 hits in 7 1/3 innings of a 4-1 loss. Toronto’s Lyle Overbay is 5-for-10 against Byrd, Alex Rios is batting just .200 with one homer, and Vernon Wells has a .211 batting ave. vs. the Sox righty.
Shaun Marcum (8-5, 3.36) will be on the hill for the Jays. Last Sunday at Fenway Park, Marcum pitched five innings and allowed a run on five hits in Toronto’s 15-4 blowout win over the Sox. He has been pitching well of late, winning his last three starts while posting a 2.00 ERA. Dustin Pedroia is 0-for-11 vs. Marcam. Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew are the only Sox players to have homered off the righthander, but Youk has seven strikeouts in his 15 at-bats.
The Providence Journal is reporting today that the Red Sox have recalled relief pitcher Chris Smith back to Boston from Pawtucket. The Jays yesterday obtained third baseman Jose Bautista from the Pirates for a player to be named later.
Lefthander Jon Lester (12-4) will face Jesse Litsch (8-7) of the Jays tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m. and Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-2) goes up against Toronto’s A.J. Burnett (16-9 with a six-game winning streak) Sunday afternoon in another 1 p.m. start.
We’ve also got a closer look at the Sox struggles with the Jays this season.
And to keep track of the pennant race in the A.L. East, check out our new Red Sox pennant race tracker: The Hunt for Red October
Material from STATS LLC was used in this report.