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Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview

07.21.14 at 1:54 pm ET
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With just 10 days until the trade deadline, things are getting interesting for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox have won six of their last seven games, curtailing (at least temporarily) discussions of the team waving the white flag on 2014 and adopting the role of “€œseller”€ at the end of the month. Boston is firing on all cylinders, hitting .291 while posting a 2.25 team ERA over its last eight games.

The Red Sox have picked a good time to get hot, as they enter into a crucial 13-game stretch against AL East opponents –€“ starting off with a four-game tilt against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Toronto, third in the AL East standings and four games ahead of Boston in the loss column, took two out of three from the lowly Rangers over the weekend and is 4-6 over its last 10 games.

After an impressive May, the Jays have scored the second-fewest runs in the AL since then. Part of the reason for the offensive woes is the injury big, as Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind are on the 15-day disabled list.

“Since June 1, we’€™d scored fewer runs than anybody except for the Red Sox in the AL,” Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters Sunday. “Clearly offensively we haven’€™t played as well as we can. I’€™m optimistic that our [injured] guys have a chance to come back sooner than we all think. I got an update last night that Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion are really progressing well. Lind is out of his boot. They’€™re swinging off a tee. Lind is going to swing with a little more authority today, but again, after everything he’€™s done he’€™s got no symptoms at all, no pain. It’€™s obviously a great sign.”

Here are the pitching matchups for the four-game series.

Monday: John Lackey (10-6, 3.79 ERA) vs. Drew Hutchison (6-8, 4.16 ERA)
Tuesday: Jake Peavy (1-8, 4.59 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (7-5, 4.91 ERA)
Wednesday: Clay Buchholz (5-5, 5.46 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (7-10, 3.95 ERA)
Thursday: Rubby De La Rosa (3-2, 2.64 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (5-2, 3.58 ERA)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

Daniel Nava is coming off of one of his strongest games of the season, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs in Sunday’s 6-0 win over the Royals. Nava, who posted a line of .130/.221/.234 over his first 22 games of the season, has hit .337 (33-for-98) while compiling a .421 OBP since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on June 2. The 31-year-old outfielder has been even better this month, hitting .382 (13-for-34) since the start of July.

Rubby De La Rosa has been one of the best surprises of the 2014 season for Boston, as the young righty is 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA on the year. De La Rosa has now allowed one run or less over seven innings in four of his seven starts this season. While De La Rosa has excelled at home this season (3-0, 1.38 ERA), the same can’€™t be said on the road, as he owns a 4.42 ERA away from the friendly confines of Fenway.

— His defense may have always been here this season, but Jackie Bradley Jr. has finally started to generate some consistency at the plate. Bradley is hitting .372 (16-for-43) over his last 13 games, scoring 10 runs during that stretch. Bradley, who was hitting .201 as late as June 11, has raised his batting average to .231 — his highest total since May 2 (.233).

Brock Holt is in the midst of a six-game hitting streak, batting at a blistering .500 clip (14-for-28) during that time. Holt has four hit streaks of at least six games, the most on the team.

WHO’S HOT: BLUE JAYS

Melky Cabrera has been a model of consistency, leading the Jays in games (98), batting average (.307), hits (124) and doubles (22). Cabrera, who hit .538 over the last series against the Rangers, has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games and 23 of his last 28.

— One of the brightest spots for the Blue Jays this season has been the performance of rookie right-hander Marcus Stroman. Stroman, who hurled seven shutout innings against the Rangers on Saturday, is 4-2 with a 2.50 ERA over nine career starts in the big leagues.

WHO’S NOT: RED SOX

— The Red Sox offense may be heating up, but the same can’€™t be said for David Ortiz. In the aftermath of a three-game series against the Twins from May 13-15 that saw Ortiz post an absurd line of .571/.571/1.500 with four home runs, the designated hitter has hit just .210/.317/.395 over the following 57 games.

Xander Bogaerts showed signs of breaking out of almost two-month slump Friday against the Royals, blasting a two-run home run that helped spark a 5-4 comeback victory. However, the 21-year-old third baseman could not build on his big hit, going 0-for-3 in the following game and getting a day off Sunday. Bogaerts, who was fourth in the American League in on-base percentage (.387) and second amongst AL rookies in batting average (.299) on June 7, is hitting .234 — tied for his lowest total on the season (July 11).

WHO’S NOT: BLUE JAYS

— Starter R.A. Dickey has been susceptible to the long ball, allowing 18 round-trippers on the year, including two in his last start Friday against the Rangers. Dickey, who has lost six of his last seven starts, is tied for second in the American League in home runs allowed.

— Chalk it up to just a prototypical midseason slump or perhaps due to the loss of Edwin Encarnacion‘€™s protection in the lineup, but outfielder Jose Bautista has struggled to produce this month. The five-time All-Star is hitting .214 with just four extra-base hits (two doubles, two home runs) in July.

Read More: Blue Jays, daniel nava, Jose Bautista, Red Sox
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