In losing both of their last two series, the Red Sox have fallen to third in the AL East after being leapfrogged by the Yankees and Rays. Every team in the division is neck and neck, just two games separating fifth place from first, with the Blue Jays sitting at the bottom.
Boston will be looking to bounce back from an 18-7 romping at the hands of the Orioles when it hosts Toronto at Fenway Park early this week.
Having just been swept by the Rays after taking all three games from the Orioles the series before, the Jays appear to be having issues with their consistency. Playing Baltimore, the Blue Jays averaged eight runs a game, while they were held to about two per contest at Tropicana Field. They have scored fewer than five runs in 10 of 19 total games, and of those 10 games, nine have been losses.
“I think over the course of the year we have to be consistent,” pitcher Mark Buehrle said after the Jays’ most recent loss on Sunday. “When we’re scoring 10 runs a game it’s good, and I’m not saying we need to score 10 a game, but we just need to be consistent all around, in all aspects of the game, and it seems like we’re not doing that.
“We have a few games good and a few games bad,” he added. “When we’re going good, we’re not that good, and when we’re going bad, we’re not that. We just need to keep an even head on our shoulders and realize we’re not as bad as we’re playing right now.”
While the Red Sox possess the 10th-worst team batting average in the league at .234, Toronto has the 11th-best average at .248. In similar fashion, the Blue Jays also have a top-10 slugging percentage, registering 63 extra-base hits on the year, 25 for home runs. Boston is in the lower tier of the league for this category too as the Sox slug at a .366 clip and have just 41 extra-base hits to their name, though they have just two fewer home runs than Toronto with 23.
Though the Blue Jays are getting hits, they have been without powerhouse Jose Bautista for five games since last Tuesday when he sustained a right shoulder sprain. He was only hitting .149, but he ranks third on the team in RBIs and first in walks. Bautista told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet that he is still day-to-day but aiming for a return to the lineup against Boston.
In 19 games against the Blue Jays last season, the Red Sox posted a 7-12 record and were swept twice.
Here are the pitching matchups for the series:
Joe Kelly (1-0, 4.08 ERA) vs. Aaron Sanchez (1-2, 5.14 ERA)
Clay Buchholz (1-2, 4.84 ERA) vs. Drew Hutchinson (2-0, 5.48 ERA)
Rick Porcello (1-2, 6.48 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (0-2, 5.35 ERA)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
— He didn’t make it into the lineup Saturday, but Brock Holt has recorded two-hit outings in each of his last two games, keeping his batting average hovering around .457. Holt’s three-run home run in Friday’s 7-5 win over the O’s was the difference in Baltimore, and he is tied for fifth on the team in RBIs despite having between 25 and 40 fewer at-bats than those ahead of him.
— Hanley Ramirez has a two-hit outing streak going himself, having recorded a pair of hits in each of his last three games. His .300 batting average is second on the team behind Holt and first among those with more than 40 at-bats. With 17 RBIs on the year, Ramirez is tied for fifth in the league in that category.
— In the last seven days, catcher Ryan Hanigan has five hits and four runs in 17 at-bats. His .294 average in that time is third behind just Ramirez and Holt, as is his .368 on-base percentage.
WHO’S HOT: BLUE JAYS
— With hits in all but four of his games this season, second baseman Devon Travis leads Blue Jays batters who have more than 20 at-bats with a .359 average. His hitless outing on Sunday against Tampa Bay ended a four-game hitting streak, but he also recorded a seven-game run this season from April 12-18. Travis has 16 RBIs on the season, good for first on the team and tied for seventh in the majors.
— Third baseman Josh Donaldson is riding a four-game hit streak of his own and has a .375 average in his last 10 games, .347 on the year with the most at-bats on the team. He is second on the Jays in RBIs with 14 and tied for first in stolen bases with two, swiping both bags against the Rays in Saturday’s loss.
— Though the Red Sox won’t face him this week, pitcher Daniel Norris recorded seven impressive innings in his start on his 22nd birthday Saturday. The lefty earned just one run on five hits and struck out seven.
WHO’S NOT: RED SOX
— If Toronto’s rotation gets criticism, than the Sox’ should, too, as Boston starters combine for a league-worst 5.75 team ERA. In the last seven games, Red Sox starters have allowed 20 earned runs in 37 innings. Their team WHIP of 1.39 is seventh-worst in the MLB, and they’ve earned 66 runs, most in the league. The Red Sox are also tied with the Brewers for most total runs allowed with 69.
— In his last seven games David Ortiz has just three hits in 24 at-bats, dipping his season average below .200 to .194. In that time, though, Ortiz has five RBIs, which is tied with Ramirez for most on the team during that span. He’s also averaging one strikeout per game, which is his largest ratio since he matched it in 2010 with 145 K’s in as many games.
— After a hot start to the season, Xander Bogaerts has cooled off, hitting .129 in his last 10 games and recording two hits in his last 23 at-bats with three walks in that time. His .222 OBP in the last seven days is tied for ninth of 13 on the team.
WHO’S NOT: BLUE JAYS
— Out of the lineup for the last five games due to injury, Jose Bautista has a .149 batting average on the year and a .200 mark in the last week. Expected to make his return at Fenway, Bautista has hits in just five games this season and seven total in 47 at-bats. However, every time he records a hit he also records at least one RBI, placing third on the team with 10.
— After hitting .268 last season, Edwin Encarnacion is underperforming in 2015. The first baseman is hitting at a .183 clip and has just one hit in his last 16 at-bats. His seven strikeouts in the last seven days lead the team, and while he is fifth on the team with eight RBIs, he hasn’t driven in a run in since Tuesday, six games ago.
— The Blue Jays rotation ranks fourth worst in team ERA at 5.06 through 105 innings pitched and has allowed the second-most home runs in the league at 18. The starters’ WHIP, 1.49, ranks third worst in the majors, and they’ve surrendered 46 walks, third most.