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Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Henderson Alvarez 09.07.12 at 9:46 am ET
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The Red Sox will look to bounce back from their catastrophic West Coast road trip as they send Felix Doubront to the mound to open a weekend series against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

Doubront (10-7, 5.03 ERA) has faced the Blue Jays three times this season, posting a 1-1 record with 4.67 ERA against them over 17 1/3 innings. His last outing against Toronto came on June 25, where he took the loss after giving up five runs over six innings, the worst of the three starts. At the beginning of June, Doubront had much greater success against the Jays, lasting 6 1/3 innings and giving up two earned runs while striking out seven.

While Doubront’€™s numbers against Toronto aren’t disastrous, the Blue Jays lineup has hit him well over the course of hi brief career. Against the lineup he will see Friday, Doubront has a .306 batting average against along with an .860 OPS against. Those numbers are slightly skewed by the fact that Doubront has dominated Toronto’€™s Rajai Davis and Adam Lind, having yet to allow either to reach base in 13 plate appearances. The rest of the lineup is batting .405 against Doubront.

Doubront’€™s last outing was an abysmal affair in Oakland: five earned runs over three innings with a home run in a 7-1 A’€™s win. The outing was the shortest of the season for Doubront, who hasn’€™t earned a victory since July 18 against the White Sox.

Making his fifth start of the season against the Red Sox on Friday will be 22-year-old Henderson Alvarez (7-12, 5.04 ERA). Against the Red Sox this season, Alvarez is 2-1 with a 5.87 ERA, with most of the damage coming in his last start against them on July 22. Alvarez gave up seven runs over 5 2/3 innings but earned the win as the Toronto lineup went nuts against Jon Lester in a 15-7 beatdown.

Outside of Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, both of whom are batting .333 against Alvarez, the Red Sox have pretty lackluster numbers against the Jays hurler. That much can’€™t be said about the rest of the American League, which seems to have solved the young Venezuelan, despite the fact that his ERA hasn’€™t reached the point of John Lackey circa 2011. Currently, Alvarez’€™s .842 OPS-against ranks second among qualified starts according to ESPN.

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Jon Lester vs. Henderson Alvarez 07.22.12 at 8:00 am ET
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The Red Sox will finish up their seven-game homestand on Sunday as they send Jon Lester to the mound vs. the Blue Jays.

Lester has struggled this season with a 5-7 record and a meager 4.80 ERA. However, he’s been able to give the Sox decent innings, eclipsing the six-inning mark in 11 of his 19 starts. He had his best month of the year in June, when he was 2-1 with a 4.01 ERA, but he hasn’t been able to improve on that this month, with his ERA staying above 4.00 since May 25.

The lefty’s struggles continued in his last outing, when he allowed six runs on seven hits in only four innings against the White Sox on July 17. He left the game in the fourth inning after only throwing 91 pitches.

The 28-year-old has great career numbers vs. the Blue Jays, with an 11-5 record and a 3.20 ERA in 20 starts. He’s 1-1 this season against the AL East rivals. He got the victory against Toronto after going seven innings and allowing four runs on June 27.

On the mound for the Blue Jays will be Henderson Alvarez, a second-year starter from Venezuela.

Alvarez, like Lester, is 5-7, but he has a better ERA at 4.29. He started off the season with a quality April and May, with his ERA on May 15 at an impressive 2.62. But after a brutal June in which his ERA was 5.20, Alvarez’s ERA has evened out. He has eclipsed 100 pitches in five of his 18 starts.

The Venezuelan had a solid start against the Yankees on July 16, going six innings and allowing only two runs, but he could not get the decision as the bullpen let up four runs in a 6-3 loss. His 105 pitches marked his second-highest pitch count of the season.

The 22-year-old is 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox in his career, including three starts this season in which he’s 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA. Since Alvarez is only in his second year, the Red Sox lineup is still figuring him out as only two batters have more than 10 at-bats vs. him. Ryan Sweeney has had success against Alvarez, going 4-for-10.

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Monday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Henderson Alvarez 06.25.12 at 9:14 am ET
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The Red Sox on Monday kick off a three-game series at Fenway Park against division rival Toronto. The Sox pushed past the Blue Jays and out of a tie for last place in the AL East on Sunday, and they’re looking to avoid falling back to the bottom.

On the mound for the Sox will be Felix Doubront, who has been a pleasant surprise all year, providing much-needed consistency for a starting rotation that has struggled with that. The 24-year-old lefty leads the team in wins (8, tied with Clay Buchholz), and strikeouts (85). His 4.31 ERA trails only Josh Beckett (4.14) among Sox starters.

Doubront struggled in his last outing, giving up four earned runs on nine hits in six innings against the Marlins at Fenway (although the Sox won the game, 15-5). His four strikeouts were his fewest since May 7. That he pitched far better in Miami a week earlier should come as no surprise, as Doubront has been far less effective at home, with a 5.59 ERA at Fenway compared to 3.19 ERA on the road.

Doubront has faced the Jays twice this season (both in Toronto), compiling a 1-0 record and 4.31 ERA. Career-wise, in 56 total plate appearances, the Blue Jays are hitting .269 against Doubront, with three home runs, seven RBIs and 13 strikeouts.

Fellow Venezuelan Henderson Alvarez will take the mound opposite Doubront. The 22-year-old is 3-6 with a 4.30 ERA in 14 starts this season and has particularly struggled in June, going 0-2 with a 6.29 ERA. His troubles actually date back to his last seven starts, during which time he is 0-4 with a 6.26 ERA.

Henderson features a fastball which he throws 72 percent of the time, a change up (18 percent) and a slider (10 percent). Though his fastball consistently reaches into the mid-to-upper 90s, Henderson does not generate many strikeouts, with just 27 on the season.

He has had some success against the Red Sox, holding them to a .217 batting average in 48 plate appearances. But when he faced them on June 1, he allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings and took the loss.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Henderson Alvarez 06.01.12 at 8:42 am ET
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Clay Buchholz had a frustrating start to 2012, but if his most recent start is any indication, the 27-year-old right-hander might finally be turning things around.

Buchholz arguably had his best outing of the season against the Rays on Sunday, when he threw seven innings and allowed only two earned runs on eight hits and struck out six. He was lined up for the win when he was taken out, but Alfredo Aceves blew his save opportunity in the ninth inning and the Red Sox lost, 4-3.

Buchholz (4-2) improved his ERA to a still-dismal 7.19, but he should be happy to be taking the hill at the Rogers Centre on Friday night against the Blue Jays, a team that he’s had much success against in his career. In 12 career starts against the Jays, Buchholz owns a 7-3 record with a 2.58 ERA and 57 strikeouts. He’s experienced a lot of success at the Rogers Centre, where he is 5-2 with a 1.62 ERA and where he has won his last five starts.

Buchholz’s last game against the Blue Jays came in Toronto last year on June 10, when he tossed seven innings, let up one run on three hits and struck out six in a 5-1 Red Sox victory. Toronto’s best hitter against Buchholz comes in the form of slugger Jose Bautista, who hits .273 with a home run in 25 plate appearances against the right-hander. Overall, Buchholz has held current Blue Jays batters to a combined batting average of .132.

The Blue Jays will respond with right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who is coming off of a disastrous start against the Rangers. He pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up back-to-consecutive home runs to Nelson Cruz, Yorvit Torrealba and Mitch Moreland. On the next at-bat, he was ejected after throwing too far inside to Ian Kinsler, and the Blue Jays ultimately lost in 13 innings, 8-7, on a Josh Hamilton walk-off home run.

Alvarez hasn’t been pitching in the major leagues very long. After spending three years in the minors, the 22-year-old Venezuelan made his debut last year on Aug. 9 and got his first career win on Aug. 31 in a 13-0 rout of the Orioles in which he pitching eight innings, struck out five and only gave up just three hits. For his career, Alvarez is 4-7 with a 3.55 ERA, including a 3-4 record and 3.56 ERA start to 2012.

Alvarez has pitched twice against the Red Sox in his career, both of which were no-decisions that came at the Rogers Centre. Last year, he pitched six innings, gave up four hits and struck out four in a 1-0 Blue Jays win, and earlier this season, he pitched six innings, struck out two and surrendered one run on four hits in the Blue Jays’ 4-2 loss. Alvarez has held current Red Sox batters to a combined .156 batting average. Ryan Sweeney and David Ortiz have got the best of him with a .286 and .400 average, respectively.

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Monday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Henderson Alvarez 04.09.12 at 6:29 am ET
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After the first series of the 2012 season, the Red Sox will travel north of the border to take on the divisional foe Blue Jays in a three-game series beginning Monday at Rogers Centre. The series begins with a pitching matchup that pits Felix Doubront, a new addition to the Boston rotation for the 2012 season, against Henderson Alvarez of the Blue Jays.

Both Doubront and Alvarez are young pitchers that are early in their respective careers, with just three seasons pitched between the two of them. Doubront is entering his third season in the majors, all of which have come with the Red Sox. However, he is extremely inexperienced as a starter, as only three of his 23 career appearances have been starts. In 11 relief appearances last season, Doubront largely struggled as he gave up seven earned runs in 10 1/3 innings, all of which added up to a 6.10 ERA. Additionally, he had eight walks to just six strikeouts.

Yet despite his past struggles in his MLB career, Doubront was impressive in spring training, a performance that helped him land his role in the rotation. In four appearances, three of which were starts, the 24-year-old Venezuelan gave up just five earned runs in 16 2/3 innings, good enough for a 2.70 ERA to go along with 10 strikeouts and six walks. Monday’s game will mark Doubront’s first start since July 16, 2010, an 8-4 loss to the Rangers in which he gave up four runs (two earned) in 4 2/3 innings, taking the loss in the process.

Despite Doubront’s limited career span, he is fairly familiar with the Blue Jays, having made three career appearances against them in 2011 alone (tied with the Yankees for the team Doubront faced the most last season). In those games, he threw three innings and gave up one earned run on three hits. At the Rogers Centre, Doubront appeared in one game in 2011, an unsuccessful relief appearance in which he gave up two hits and one earned run in 2/3 of an inning.

Doubront has faced just six players on the Toronto roster. In those 10 plate appearances, Doubront has two strikeouts, a walk and just two hits (one of which was a home run). Challenging Doubront will be a potent Blue Jays offense, one that scored seven runs in its opening day win over the Indians and that ranked sixth in the majors in runs in 2011 with 743.

Coming off a series against the Tigers in which they had to deal with reigning American League Cy Young and MVP award winner Justin Verlander, the Red Sox get to contend with the relatively unproven Alvarez, who is entering just his second major league season. In 2011, Alvarez pitched 63 2/3 innings across 10 appearances, all of which were starts. In those games, Alvarez was a pleasant surprise, with a 3.53 ERA with 40 strikeouts to just eight walks (all of this despite an underwhelming 1-3 record).

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Monday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Josh Beckett vs. Henderson Alvarez 09.05.11 at 9:43 am ET
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After a rough week in which a 2-4 record sunk the Red Sox 1½ games out of first place, the Sox will attempt to right the ship with a Monday matinee north of the border against the Blue Jays. Josh Beckett will look to extend his three-game win streak while 21-year-old Henderson Alvarez seeks the second victory of his young career.

Monday afternoon’s tilt against the Blue Jays marks the beginning of the end of the Red Sox’ regular season as they play their final 23 games against American League East clubs. The Red Sox hold an AL-best 32-17 mark against the AL East and are 8-4 against the Blue Jays. The Jays enter the series on the heels of a weekend sweep at the hands of the Yankees and have lost eight of their last 11.

Beckett performed well in his one start against Toronto this season, allowing just one run and three hits over seven innings in an April 16 win at Fenway. But Beckett has struggled in six career starts at Rogers Centre, compiling a 1-2 record with a 9.28 ERA. Beckett won in his last start, when he allowed five runs on six hits over seven innings in a 9-5 victory over the Yankees.

The Blue Jays are hitting a combined .242 against Beckett, with Adam Lind and Jose Bautista enjoying the most success against him. Lind is hitting .444 against Beckett with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs. Bautista is 3-for-9 in his career against Beckett. Two of his three hits were home runs.

The Sox lineup, which was erratic in the weekend series against the Rangers, will start fresh against Alvarez, who won in his last start. Alvarez allowed just three hits and no runs over eight innings in a 13-0 win over Baltimore.

Conor Jackson is the only Boston batter who has faced Alvarez, going 2-for-3 with two singles against the right-hander. Jackson, however, enters Monday’s game banged up after crashing into the right-field wall and leaving Sunday’s game in the fourth inning.

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