Records Entering Series: BOS (17-4, 1st in AL East), TOR (13-8, 2nd in AL East)
The Boston Red Sox head into Toronto still in 1st place in the AL East after finishing their West Coast swing with 2 straight losses for the first time all year. Toronto has been one of the more surprising teams so far this year, sitting at 13-8 and 4 games back from the Sox in 2nd place.
Despite recording just 6 hits and 1 run in the previous 2 games, the Boston offense is still statistically the best offense in the MLB. They’ll be going up against a Blue Jays pitching staff with a collective 4.04 ERA in one of the more hitter-friendly parks in the league. On the flip side, the Blue Jays offense is batting just .234, but they have smashed 28 home runs, ranking 6th in the MLB. They’ll have their work cut out for them, facing a Boston staff that’s 4th in the league with a 2.75 ERA and an MLB-best 12 home runs allowed.
Boston will be looking to take 2 out of 3 and extend their lead in the AL East before heading back to Fenway for a 6-game home stand.
Hitters to Watch
BOS: Andrew Benintendi – Benintendi began the year very slow, hitting just .206 in his first 9 games. He’s been better lately, posting a .278 BA in 9 games since, but is still not the hitter the Red Sox were hoping he would be this year. There’s not much doubt that he’ll come around and begin smacking the ball around, and the Rogers Centre in Toronto is perhaps the perfect place for that to start. With huge outfield gaps and an extremely fast turf, it’s perfectly suited to Benintendi’s strengths, the ability to drive the ball to the gaps.
TOR: Kevin Pillar – A career .265 hitter, Pillar has really excelled out of the gate this year. He’s currently batting .304 with a .796 OPS. He hits anywhere between the 5-7 slots and will be someone that the Red Sox pitching will have to be careful with.
Pitchers to Watch
BOS: Eduardo Rodriguez – After a mediocre 1st start of the year, Rodriguez has come on strong and found a groove. In his 2 starts since, he’s pitched 12 innings, allowing just 8 hits and 3 runs while striking out 13. If he can continue pitching well, he adds to an already stacked Red Sox rotation.
TOR: J.A. Happ – Happ is arguably the best pitcher in the Blue Jays rotation. He’s 3-1 on the year, but his ERA is a bloated 4.50 due to the 5 home runs he’s already given up this season. Boston’s lineup is filled with power, and Happ will have to be wary of being taken deep again by the likes of Betts, Ramirez and Martinez.
Matchup to Watch: Curtis Granderson vs. Boston’s LHP, Brock Holt vs. Tzu-Wei Lin.
There’s two matchups to watch for this one, the first being Curtis Granderson vs. Boston’s LHP.
Granderson is a familiar foe to the Red Sox, having spent 4 seasons a short ways down I-95 with the Yankees. He’s hitting an impressive .294 with 2 HR and 9 RBI this year at 37-years old, but the veteran lefty will be facing Eduardo Rodriguez in game 2 and Chris Sale in game 3, both left-handed pitchers. In his career, Granderson is batting just .223 with 542 K’s in 1,782 AB’s vs. LHP.
The 2nd matchup to watch is a little different, as it pits 2 teammates against each other. Xander Bogaerts will be on assignment while Boston is in Toronto rehabbing his ankle. He’s expected to return Friday, meaning someone on the roster will be sent down, and that’s most likely between Brock Holt and Tzu-Wei Lin. Lin has been more than serviceable since being called up when Bogaerts went down, hitting .286. Brock Holt has been hot of late as well, meaning the two of them may just be playing for their Major League lives the next 3 games.