The Red Sox begin a four-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto on Monday night when they send John Lackey to the mound against Drew Hutchison.
After three straight subpar performances, Lackey (10-6, 3.79 ERA) finished strong in his final start before the All-Star break despite the added challenge of throwing to rookie catcher Christian Vazquez for the first time. He allowed just two runs and four hits but had a season-high five walks over six innings in the Sox’ 8-3 win over the Astros on July 11.
“There’s more on my shoulders as far as calling the game and that sort of thing,” Lackey said after the game. “I’m going to have to do some of that on my own, but as far as just catching the ball — and we all know the way he can throw the ball — [Vazquez] is a weapon back there, for sure.”
Despite being in the same division, Lackey hasn’t faced the Blue Jays since April 6, 2013. That start was his first since coming back from Tommy John surgery, which wiped out his 2012 season.
The right-hander pitched in pain for some of the start against the Blue Jays as well. Lackey left in the fifth inning that night with a biceps strain that sidelined him for another three weeks. He gave up two runs on five hits and had eight strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings but took the loss in the game.
Lackey is 5-8 with a 5.43 ERA in 20 career starts against Toronto.
Hutchison (6-8, 4.16 ERA) had a frustrating end to his first half of the season, finishing with two straight losses in which he failed to get out of the sixth inning. His loss against the Rays on July 12 was especially disappointing. Hutchison left the game with only three runs allowed but walked three batters in the sixth to surrender a run and load the bases before being pulled.
All three baserunners scored and Hutchison was tagged for six runs on six hits and a season-high five walks in the Rays’ 10-3 rout.
“I faced five guys in that inning, got ahead of them all, walked three and gave up a two-strike hit. That’s just not going to get the job done,” Hutchison said after the game. “It’s embarrassing, that’s about all there is to say about it.”
The Red Sox may be the perfect team for Hutchison to turn things around against. The righty is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA is two career starts against the Sox. One of those wins came May 21 when he gave up one run, scattered six hits and had four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings in a 6-4 Blue Jays win.
Red Sox vs. Hutchison (RHP)
David Ortiz (6 plate appearances): .000 AVG/.000 OBP/.000 SLG, 1 strikeout
Daniel Nava (4): .000/.250/.000, 1 walk
Xander Bogaerts (3): .667/.667/1.000, 1 double
Mike Carp (3): .500/.667/1.000, 1 double, 1 walk
Jonny Gomes (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts
Mike Napoli (3): .000/.667/.000, 2 walks
Dustin Pedroia (3): .333/.333/.333
Brock Holt is hitless in two career plate appearances.
Blue Jays vs. Lackey (RHP)
Melky Cabrera (32 plate appearances): .323 AVG/.344 OBP/.419 SLG, 3 doubles, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
Jose Bautista (28): .238/.429/.524, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 7 walks, 5 strikeouts
Dan Johnson (26): .200/.385/.350, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 6 walks, 3 strikeouts
Dioner Navarro (20): .105/.100/.158, 1 double, 4 RBIs, 5 strikeouts
Jose Reyes (7): .500/.571/.500, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Erik Kratz (3): .500/.667/2.000, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 walk
Colby Rasmus struck out in both of his plate appearances.