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Saturday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Mark Buehrle 09.21.13 at 9:11 am ET
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The Red Sox’ final regular-season series at Fenway Park will continue on Saturday night, as Clay Buchholz will get the call for Boston opposite Mark Buehrle and the Blue Jays in the second game of the three-game series.

Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

Buchholz (11-0, 1.51 ERA) will be making his third straight start after missing three months with neck and shoulder issues.

Despite spending almost half of the season on the disabled list, Buchholz has yet to really show any rust, as the right-hander has allowed only one run and five hits over 11 innings since returning to the rotation.

Buchholz was effective in his last start Sunday night against the Yankees, holding New York to two hits and one run over six solid innings.

“It’s fun to play ball when things are going right,” Buchholz said after the game. “That’s how this team’s been all year. To run back out there two starts in a row, that’s what I want to do. That’s where I want to be.”

The last time Buchholz faced off against Toronto was on May. The Texas native put together a great performance in the start, holding the Jays to two runs over eight innings. Despite Buchholz’s effort, the Red Sox would eventually lose the game by a score of 3-2 after Jays first baseman Adam Lind hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning off Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa.

In 16 career starts against Toronto, Buchholz is 9-4 with a 2.41 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.

Traded from the Marlins to the Blue Jays on Nov. 19 of last year, Buehrle (11-9, 4.17 ERA) has overcome early season struggles (6.35 ERA in April) to become one of Toronto’s most reliable starters for most of the year.

However, the left-hander has struggled in his last few starts, as he has compiled a 7.04 ERA in three September starts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Blue Jays, felix doubront, mark buehrle, Red Sox
Closing Time: Big second inning propels Red Sox past Blue Jays 06.27.13 at 9:45 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia

One inning was all the Red Sox needed Thursday night, as they used a seven-run rally in the second inning to knock Chien-Ming Wang from the game and top the Blue Jays 7-4 Thursday night at Fenway Park.

After being sent down in order quickly in the first, Red Sox hitters were much more patient with Wang to start the second inning as David Ortiz and Mike Carp forced back-to-back walks. Five consecutive hits and a Dustin Pedroia two-run home run later, the Red Sox had a commanding seven-run lead.

Thursday marked the eighth time this season the Red Sox have knocked out an opposing starting pitcher before the third inning, which is more than any other team in the majors.

That run support was more than enough for Jon Lester, who was having a very strong outing before injuring himself in the top of the eighth inning. The lefty left the game with nobody out in the frame, exiting with what appeared to be a leg injury. He showed no semblance of discomfort upon leaving the field.

Here is a look at what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox win.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- Lester was nearly flawless through the first four innings of the game, only allowing two walks without allowing a hit in the effort. Even when he allowed a baserunner, he forced ground balls that turned into double plays later in the inning both times.

The lefty allowed only four runs on five hits and three walks while striking out five through seven innings pitched. The last time Lester pitched deeper into a start was on May 10, when he pitched a complete game shutout — also against Toronto.

- Pedroia capped off the second-inning rally with a two-run home run over the Green Monster to give the Red Sox a 7-0 lead and knock Wang out of the game early. It was Pedroia’s fifth home run of the season and first since June 5. Four of Pedroia’s five home runs this season have come at Fenway Park.

- Stephen Drew made several nice defensive plays in the game, including a nice one-handed scoop and throw on a Jose Reyes broken bat grounder in the fourth inning. He also was a part of two inning-ending double plays in the game to help Lester keep his pitch count down.

While Jose Iglesias is praised for being one of the top defensive shortstops in the league already, Drew has quietly ranked among the elite defensive shortstops as well. Entering Thursday, Drew was only behind Andrelton Simmons and Pedro Florimon with a 6.9 UZR as the best defensive shortstop in MLB this season.

Daniel Nava, who hit an RBI single in the middle of the second-inning rally, made an impressive leaping catch to help preserve the Red Sox lead in the top of the eighth inning. Edwin Encarnacion hit a long fly ball that would have hit the bottom of the wall in left field, but Nava sprinted back before catching the ball at the top of his leap to save two runs from scoring.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- Lester had to leave the game with an apparent injury in the seventh inning with runners on first and second. With Clay Buchholz already shut down for the time being, an injury to Lester would be a blow to Boston’s rotation if the injury is significant.

- The Red Sox could have had an even bigger inning in the second, but Shane Victorino broke up the five consecutive hits off Wang by grounding into a 4-6-3 double play. Victorino was one of only three Red Sox that did not drive in a run in the game.

Mike Carp was the only Red Sox hitter without a hit in the game, going 0-for-3 with a walk in the process. Carp had only been held without a hit once in his last nine games.

- While the Red Sox had no trouble with Wang, they had no answer for left-handed reliever Juan Perez. Perez pitched three hitless innings of relief for the Blue Jays, striking out two batters in the process. The Blue Jays were unable to climb back into the game, but that type of effort was crucial for Toronto in regards to keeping its bullpen rested for the rest of the series.

Read More: Blue Jays, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Red Sox
Closing Time: Clay Buchholz dominant again, this time leading Red Sox past Blue Jays 05.01.13 at 9:59 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz

TORONTO – Clay Buchholz continues to take his game to new levels.

The Red Sox starter managed yet another standout performance, this time allowing just two hits and no runs, striking out eight and walking three in leading his team to a 10-1 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

With the win, the righty became the first six-game winner in the majors while lowering his ERA to 1.01. Buchholz has the best ERA through the first six starts for a Red Sox pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1991 (0.73).

Buchholz, who has allowed a total of five earned runs in his six starts, also continued his domination at the home of the Jays. In 10 career starts at Rogers Centre, the righty has an ERA of 1.49, having led his team to wins in the pitcher’s last eight appearances in the venue.

“Just very consistent,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell regarding Buchholz, who becomes the first Sox starter since Josh Beckett to win his first six starts of the season. (Beckett won the first seven in 2007.) “Very poised on the mound. The maturity as we’ve talked about on a couple of occasions, continues to I think play out in those situations, where he’s got to make a pitch with men on base. Once again, it was the case here tonight. Wasn’t really challenged as he’s been in other games. And that’s not to take anything away from the Blue Jays, he was just in that kind of command from the get-go.”

Offensively, Mike Napoli led the charge with the 11th multi-home run game of his career, hitting a solo shot to center in the fourth and a three-run job in the seventh. The second homer came on a 3-0 count, the fifth time in his career he has gone deep in such a situation. The first blast was measured at 472 feet, while the second came in at 467 feet. Both out-distanced Napoli’s previous best of 460, hit earlier this season in Rogers Centre.

“It wouldn’t matter to me, if it goes right over the fence, it’s just the same thing to me,” Napoli said. “It doesn’t matter to me, but I thought the second one went farther.”

Napoli and Stephen Drew both finished with three hits apiece, leading a 15-hit attack by the Sox.

Capping the scoring for the Red Sox was Mike Carp’s solo, pinch-hit home run int he ninth inning. The blast remarkably gave the first baseman/outfielder 12 hits for the season, nine of which have gone for extra-bases.

“You go in there and you’re in Big Papi’s spot, so you better do some damage,” said Carp, who was batting for David Ortz.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ 19th win of the season:

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- Drew got the scoring going with a two-run homer, his first as a member of the Red Sox. The second-inning blast, which sailed into the second deck, scored Will Middlebrooks, who had been hit by a Buerhle pitch. Drew came into the game with one hit in 14 at-bats against left-handed pitching. The Red Sox are now 13-0 when scoring first.

“I think the one thing that we’ve seen, we have to remember that probably on the homestand, compared to everyone else, was just about the end of spring training for him,” Farrell said of Drew. “We’re seeing the timing become more consistent. Right-handed and left-handed, he’s still putting good ABs up and he’s seeing the ball much better and he gives that bottom third of our order added depth and certainly a lift.

- Napoli’s first homer – which helped him rebound from a four-strikeout performance Tuesday night — was followed by Daniel Nava’s fifth homer of the season. It marked the fourth time this season the Red Sox have gone back-to-back (having done it twice against the Blue Jays). The Nava home run also marked the first home run by a Red Sox right fielder this season.

“I feel like I’ve been doing it long enough to understand that you can let those AB’s go,” the first baseman said. “Of course, you don’t want to do that but you’re not going to have a good night every night in baseball. I was able to let that go – I wish we had won and I did that, but we didn’t. I know how to let things go and go to the next day. I let it go. I’ll let this go, I had a good night, get out here tomorrow and do my same routine and try to have a good day.”

- Ortiz extended his hit streak to 22 straight games thanks to a leadoff double in the sixth. He is the only major leaguer in history to accumulate a hit streak that long while playing exclusively at designated hitter.

- Will Middlebrooks not only came away with a pair of hits, but managed a nifty basket catch of Colby Rasmus’ pop-up in foul ground in the sixth inning. It was Middlebrooks’ third multi-hit performance in his last five games.

- Jonny Gomes, who came into the game 6-for-13 against Mark Buehrle, drove the Toronto starter from the game with his second walk of the game in the seventh. After Gomes scored via an Esmil Rogers wild-pitch, the lefty hurler closed out his line, having given up five runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings, raising his ERA to 6.43.

- Nava took advantage of a terrible baserunning decision by Melky Cabrera, who was thrown out by the Sox’ right fielder trying to stretch his seventh-inning single into a double (down by eight runs). Nava’s throw was right on the mark to Drew, who put on the tag with plenty of time to spare.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

With one out in the sixth inning, the bases loaded and Buehrle’s pitch count closing in on the century mark, Drew grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

Alex Wilson had a rough outing in following up Buchholz, allowing one run on two hits while also issuing a walk.

Read More: Blue Jays, Clay Buchholz, mike napoli, Red Sox
Closing Time: Edwin Encarnacion helps Blue Jays get last laugh on Red Sox 04.30.13 at 10:22 pm ET
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Junichi Tazawa

TORONTO — Just when it looked like the Red Sox were going to will themselves to another win, Edwin Encarnacion got another at-bat.

Encarnacion gave the Blue Jays the lead for good with a two-run, seventh-inning homer off Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa, propelling Toronto to an 9-7 win over the Red Sox Tuesday night at Rogers Centre. It was Encarnacion’s second homer of the game.

The loss snaps a five-game Red Sox win streak, while also handing starter Jon Lester his first loss of the season. Lester, who drops to 4-1, allowed six runs on six hits over six innings, striking out five and walking two. The lefty’s ERA went from 2.27 to 3.11.

“Edwin is a very good hitter,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell.“Obviously he’s been very productive here the last couple of years. He gets a cutter that doesn’t get to the spot off Lester for the first two-run homer, and then a 2-1 fastball that leaked back towards the middle of the plate after we score the three runs in that seventh inning. I thought we did a great job of fighting back into this. We staked them to a 4-0 lead. We fight back, take the lead with a four-run seventh and then give it right back. But they’ve got a quick-strike offense, and they swung the bat very well tonight.”

Earlier in the seventh, it appeared as though the Red Sox were going to be able to keep their win streak going when David Ortiz ripped a bases-loaded double into the right-center field gap, scoring three and giving the visitors a one-run lead. With the hit off of Blue Jays’ reliever Steve Delebar, Ortiz is now 15-for-25 against right-handed pitching this season.

“It was a good game, everybody did what they were supposed to,” Ortiz said. “They ended up scoring a couple of runs against us at the end of the game. it was a good game. just come back tomorrow and have the same attitude.”

But after retiring his first two batters, Tazawa ran into trouble. The reliever first issued a free pass to Jose Bautista after going to a full-count. He then went to 2-and-1 on Encarnacion before the Jays’ first baseman deposited the pitcher’s 94 mph fastball over the center field fence.

The Jays added an insurance run against newly-activated Joel Hanrahan in the eighth when Colby Rasmus singled in J.P. Arencibia, who had led off the inning with a single of his own.

“It felt good. I felt like I made some decent pitches that got hit,” Hanrahan said. “Any time you get that leadoff guy on, it makes it a little harder. Overall, my health felt good. It’s a step in the right direction. Unfortunately gave up that run right there. Want to keep it to one run. I felt good – obviously it could’ve been better. I’m not going to be down about this outing. For me, it’s a step in the direction.”

Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox in their eighth loss of the season:

WHAT WENT WRONG

With the count 3-and-1 on Encarnacion and the bases-loaded with nobody out, Jarrod Saltalamacchia attempted to pick off Jose Bautista at first. But the throw went well wide of first baseman Mike Napoli, resulting in a pair of runs scoring, giving the Jays a 3-0 lead in the third. The Jays had initially jumped out to a 1-0 lead thanks to Bautista’s RBI double in the first. The throw went awry in part because Saltalamacchia’s throwing hand glanced home plate umpire’s Clint Fagan’s mask.

“It looked like he got tied up with Clint behind the plate,” Farrell said. “He goes to cock his arm, had his hand hits the mask. After conferring with the umpire, he felt like it was after the ball was released. Physically, I don’t know how that could have happened after he released the ball. But in that case, that should have been a dead ball in the situation that it was, but they kept it as it was.”

With two outs and Jacoby Ellsbury representing the potential game-tying run at second, Brandon Morrow caught the outfielder leaning, picking him off to end the inning and the threat.

“Not a real good heads-up play given the game situation, the fact that it looked like Morrow was starting to fatigue a little bit and with Napoli and Ortiz coming behind him,” Farrell said. “Just trying to be aggressive, and it didn’t work out this time.”

After the Red Sox cut their deficit to one run with a score in the fifth, the Blue Jays responded with two more of their own with Encarnacion’s two-run blast, coming on a 3-and-1 offering from Lester. The blast reached Roger Centre’s 500 Level, only the 14th time it has been done.

Napoli struck out four times, the second time he has managed the feat. (The only other occasion came June 11, 2010.)

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Ortiz and Mike Carp helped bring the Red Sox back with two runs with a pair of solo home runs in the fourth inning. Ortiz’ blast, clearing the center field wall, was his third of the season, while improving his average against right-handers to .636 (14-for-22). Carp, meanwhile, had seen eight of his 11 hits go for extra-bases with the homer.

“In 2011 I felt like I got a hit every day between Triple-A and the big leagues. It was a good run. But not like this,” Carp said. “Not when playing time is sporadic, where you’re getting two at-bats or pinch-hitting. It’s definitely something to hold on and try to keep going.”

Stephen Drew finished off an all-round well-executed scoring play for the Sox in the fifth. Dustin Pedroia ripped Brandon Morrow’s 0-2 pitch back up the middle, sending Drew home. The Sox’ shortstop narrowly beat the throw from center fielder Colby Rasmus thanks to a slide that allowed his right hand to just catch the plate. It brought the Red Sox to within a run at the time.

Pedroia momentarily saved a run in the third when he made a nifty back-hand of a Melky Cabrera one-hopper with the infield drawn in. The second baseman was able to bounce up, look Bautista back at third and get the out at first. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, on the next at-bat Arencibia rifled a double down the left field line to make it 4-0 Toronto.

Jonny Gomes made Red Sox manager John Farrell’s move to pinch-hit the right-handed hitter for Carp – who had already homered – look good in the sixth inning. It was the first pinch-hit home run for the Red Sox since Will Middlebrooks’ managed one Aug. 7, 2011 against Ryan Dempster. It also snapped Aaron Loup’s stretch of 44 straight appearances without giving up a home run, the longest such streak by any Blue Jays to start a career.

Read More: Blue Jays, David Ortiz, Edwin Encarnacion, Red Sox
Series preview: Red Sox return to Toronto, resume AL East slate at 1:26 pm ET
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John Gibbons and the Blue Jays have had an unpleasant march through April. (AP)

The Red Sox will head north of the border for the second time already this year to open up a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays will come into Tuesday a startling 9 1/2 games behind the first-place Red Sox, who own the best record in baseball and are looking to set the new club record for wins in April after matching a previous franchise high in concluding a four-game sweep against the Astros. The Sox are coming off a 10-game homestand (their longest of the season) in which they went 7-3.

Many baseball experts picked the Toronto Blue Jays to take the AL East title, with some predicting they’d win the pennant, if not the World Series. But the Blue Jays have not gotten off to the kind of start they would have liked or anticipated, heading into the last game of April in the cellar of the division with a 9-17 record. Toronto is coming home after a 1-6 roadtrip, capped by a four-game sweep in New York at the hands of the Yankees. The Jays have won only one of their series so far this year, taking two from the Royals earlier in the month (the only time they’ve won back-to-back games).

To say the Jays have been disappointing thus far would be an understatement. The roster has been ravaged by injuries both minor and major, from soreness limiting starters like Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey to the loss of star shortstop Jose Reyes for three months due to a severely sprained ankle. But the biggest problem has been a general lack of performance. At the start of play on Monday, the Jays were as far from first place as the Marlins were in the NL East. The Astros were actually a half a game closer to the division lead than the Jays, trailing the AL West-leading Rangers by nine games.

It’s hard to pinpoint where Toronto’s biggest weaknesses have been. They’re in the bottom third of many offensive categories, including OPS, runs scored and batting average. Their pitching hasn’t been much better; the staff had the fourth highest ERA in the majors at the start of Monday’s games. With that being said, here are the matchups for the upcoming three-game series.

THE MATCHUPS Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adam lind, Blue Jays, brandon morrow, casey janssen
Six homers, Jon Lester pace Red Sox to rout of Blue Jays 04.07.13 at 3:52 pm ET
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Will Middlebrooks

TORONTO – The first five Red Sox batters in Sunday’s series finale reached and scored against Toronto starter R.A. Dickey. The five-run first ultimately led to a 13-0 win for the Sox over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

With the win — which saw the Red Sox hit six home runs — John Farrell’s crew heads into their home opener at 4-2

Will Middlebrooks highlighted the attack, notching his first career three-home run game. The Red Sox’ third baseman first deposited a two-run blast over the right field fence, then hit a solo shot to left in the fifth, and finally notched his fourth hit of the game in the seventh with his third homer. (He almost had a fourth homer, with his last bid dying on the left field warning track.)

Daniel Nava also contributed in the seventh, helping the Red Sox come away with their first back-to-back home runs of the season when he followed Middlebrooks’ third blast. Also homering for the visitors were Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Napoli.

Jon Lester picked up his second win of the season, not allowing a run over his seven innings. The lefty, who lowered his ERA to 1.50 after two starts, struck out six while not walking a batter.

Here is what went right (and wrong) for the Red Sox:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

- Ellsbury led off each of the three games at Rogers Centre by getting on base, this time ripping a first-inning single over shortstop Jose Reyes. He also managed his fourth stolen base of the season.

- Besides producing offensively, Middlebrooks also made a standout defensive play in the fourth inning. The third baseman charged in on Maicer Izturis’ slow roller, bare-handed the ball and threw out the baserunner by a step.

- Dickey was ineffective in his second start with the Blue Jays, allowing eight runs (7 earned) on 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings. It was just the fourth time the knuckleballer had allowed at least eight runs, having done it once last year against the Braves. The righty ended up throwing 100 pitches.

- Jose Iglesias continued his early-season tear, claiming two more hits to put his batting average at .529.

- After hitting a ball to the warning track in his first at-bat, Nava launched another deep fly ball out in the third inning. The difference the second time was that it produced a run, scoring Middlebrooks from third.

WHAT WENT WRONG

- Since the series in New York, Jackie Bradley has cooled off considerably. The rookie went 0-for-4 with a walk, finishing the series going 1-for-11 with a pair of free passes and five strikeouts. Bradley heads home hitting .150.

- Mike Carp wasn’t able to take advantage of his first at-bat of the season, lining out to second on the first pitch he saw.

Read More: Blue Jays, daniel nava, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester
John Lackey injury makes bad day worse for Red Sox 04.06.13 at 3:44 pm ET
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John Lackey (AP)

TORONTO – While Saturday proved to be by far the most lackluster performance by the Red Sox during this young season, their 5-0 loss to the Blue Jays before a Rogers Centre crowd of 45,797 seemed secondary.

The Red Sox may have lost one of their starting pitchers for a significant period, with John Lackey injuring his right arm on a 2-2 pitch to Jose Reyes in the fifth inning. After delivering the low-and-inside slider, Lackey walked around the mound with his right arm dangling.

The righty, who was making his first appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery on Nov. 1, 2011, could be seen grabbing at his biceps before being ushered off the field by Red Sox’ trainer Rick Jameyson.

Lackey could actually be seen expressing discomfort in regards to his right arm during the previous two pitches leading up to the final offering. (For more on the injury, click here.)

Before his injury, Lackey had turned in a solid outing, giving up just two runs, coming on a two-run, fourth-inning homer by J.P. Arencibia. The hurler finished allowing five hits while striking out eight and walking one.

Lackey was replaced by Alfredo Aceves. The reliever ran into trouble in the sixth inning when he surrendered a three-run homer to Colby Rasmus. Aceves finished things off for the Sox, pitching the final 3 2/3 innings.

Toronto starter J.A. Happ, who hadn’t pitched since Sept. 3, 2012 after breaking the navicular bone in his right foot, baffled the Red Sox for much of the day. The lefty gave up just one hit (a leadoff, first-inning single to Jacoby Ellsbury) over 5 1/3 innings, striking out six and walking three. Dustin Pedroia would manage the only other hit of the day for the Red Sox.

The closest the Red Sox would come to scoring in the third inning when Pedro Ciriaco was gunned down at home, trying to score on a grounder to first base by Ellsbury.

Read More: Blue Jays, john lackey, Red Sox,
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