The outlook of the 2014 season looks bleak for the Red Sox.
With just four days until the July 31 trade deadline and 10 1/2 games out of first place, it appears that Boston is ready to wave the white flag on the year and prepare to add assets for future campaigns.
“Anything we do between now and Thursday afternoon will be with a mind toward building as quickly as possible for April of 2015,” said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. “And so that might mean doing very little, it might mean doing a bunch of stuff. It might be between that. I don’t know yet.”
While Boston’s chances of making the playoffs continue to dwindle by the day, the Red Sox still have an opportunity to make up some ground in the division when they host the Blue Jays for a three-game series at Fenway Park.
While the Red Sox trend downward, the Blue Jays have looked resurgent coming out of the All-Star Break. Entering the break, Toronto had dropped eight of its last 10 games and had fallen to four games out of first place in the AL East. Even with injuries to key contributors such as Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie, the Blue Jays have been able to battle back into contention for a playoff spot with a 7-3 record over their last 10 games.
“It is kind of a resilient group,” said manager John Gibbons said after Toronto’s 5-4 win over the Yankees on Sunday afternoon. “We have some guys that didn’t start with us, they’re getting some opportunities and they’re doing good things for us.
“That’s important, guys are filling in and they have to do the job for you. We were struggling going into the All-Star break, so playing better coming out of it was very important to us.”
The Blue Jays got the best of the Red Sox in their last series on July 21-24 at Rogers Centre, taking three of four from Boston and further knocking the Red Sox down in the division standings. Boston has struggled against Toronto this season, posting a 3-7 record against its divisional opponent.
Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game series.
Monday: Clay Buchholz (5-6, 5.50 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (8-10, 4.04 ERA)
Tuesday: Rubby De La Rosa (3-3, 3.54 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (6-2, 3.21 ERA)
Wednesday: Jon Lester (10-7, 2.52 ERA) vs. Mark Buehrle (10-7, 3.19 ERA)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
– Boston ace Jon Lester has continued to string together his best stretch in a Red Sox uniform amid multiple trade rumors, posting a 4-0 record with a 1.07 ERA in his last eight starts. Lester is making the most out of a contract year, compiling career highs in ERA (2.52), WHIP (1.12) and strikeout/walk ratio (4.66).
– David Ortiz wasn’t lying when he said he was about to ‘get hotter than Jamaica in the middle of August.’
The Red Sox designated hitter went on a tear during the team’s recent seven-game road trip, hitting .286 with 12 RBIs. Seven of Ortiz’s eight hits were for extra bases (five home runs, two doubles). Prior to his power surge, Ortiz hit at a paltry .210/.317/.395 clip over his previous 57 games.
– Dustin Pedroia rebounded from an 0-for-17 hitless streak (July 19 – July 22) during the final four games of the road trip, batting .400 (6-for-15) with one double and 1 RBI. Pedroia also recorded his third stolen base of the season Sunday - his first theft since May 2.
WHO’S HOT: BLUE JAYS
– Toronto starter Marcus Stroman will likely be looking forward to taking the hill against the Red Sox again, as the young righty took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his last outing against Boston Thursday en route to an 8-0 victory.
Stroman, the youngest member of the Jays rotation at just 23 years old, has been the team’s most consistent starter, posting a 6-2 record with a 2.21 ERA in 10 starts this season.
– Melky Cabrera has continued to play a major role in Toronto’s offense this month, posting a .356/.417/.506 line in July with eight doubles and 11 RBIs. The 29-year-old outfielder has only gotten better at the dish as the month has progressed, hitting .400 (10-for-25) with six doubles over his last five games.
WHO’S NOT: RED SOX
– It seems like Brock Holt is human after all.
The Red Sox utility man cooled off during the team’s seven-game stretch away from Fenway, hitting just .115 (3-for-26) over his last six games. Holt, who was hitting .326 as late as July 20, has seen his average drop to .307 entering Monday’s game.
– In what has been a recurring theme this season, Xander Bogaerts continues to look lost at the plate, hitting just .211 (4-for-19) with 6 strikeouts and no walks over his last four games. Over his last 37 games, Bogaerts has posted a line of .139/.172/.190 with just three extra-base hits (two home runs, one double).
– While Rubby De La Rosa has excelled at Fenway this season (3-0, 1.38 ERA), the same can’t be said for when the 25-year-old starter takes the hill on the road, posting an 0-3 record with a 6.04 ERA. De La Rosa turned in his worst start of the season in his last appearance against the Blue Jays Thursday, allowing six earned runs over four innings of work.
WHO’S NOT: BLUE JAYS
– Blue Jays southpaw Mark Buehrle established himself as a Cy Young candidate during the early stages of the 2014 season, posting a 10-1 record with a 2.10 ERA over his first 12 starts of the season. The veteran lefty has yet to replicate his success in the second half of the season, posting a 4.95 ERA over his last nine starts while failing to earn a win since June 1.
– One member of Toronto’s potent lineup that has failed to pull his weight this month has been outfielder Colby Rasmus. Rasmus has hit just .193 (11-for-57) in July with four extra-base hits (two home runs, one double, one triple).