Things are looking up for Jose Reyes and the Blue Jays, who have won eight straight after sweeping the Marlins. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview

June 12, 2015 - 6:09 am
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After a disappointing three-game sweep at the hands of the Orioles, the Red Sox head back to Fenway for a weekend series with the Blue Jays. The Sox had swept their first series of the season last weekend against the A's and looked to build momentum down at Camden Yards.

The team failed to do so, losing all three contests and falling back to the cellar of the AL East, now seven games behind the division-leading Yankees. In the month of June, the Sox have gone an even 5-5, pushing their record to an inadequate 27-34 on the season.

The Sox have been unable to sustain momentum all year, and just followed their best series of the year with one of their worst.

While the Red Sox have struggled to the bottom of the muddled AL East, the Blue Jays sit at third in the division. They are three games back of the Yankees, one behind Tampa Bay, and a game ahead of the Orioles.

The Toronto squad comes to Yawkey Way on a hot streak, having won eight straight games. The recent winning streak has put the Jays back on the right side of .500, with a 31-30 record.

Toronto owns the most potent offense in all of baseball, having scored 325 runs. The Jays are a whopping 50 runs ahead of the second-place Yankees. The differential between the Jays and Yanks is more than that between the Yankees and the 25th-place Red Sox (228 runs).

The Blue Jays rank first in team slugging percentage, first in team OPS and third in batting average. With 75 home runs, they have knocked the fourth-most round-trippers in the majors.

On the pitching side is where the Jays have struggled. They have tallied a 25th-best team ERA of 4.22. Their starters boast a 4.45 ERA collectively, which also places them at 25th in baseball. Each of the four qualified Jays starters owns an ERA of 3.55 or worse. In Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison and R.A. Dickey, three of those four have ERAs above 4.20.

"They're a good hitting team and that group in the middle of the lineup is probably as good as any in baseball," Marlins manager Dan Jennings said of the Jays during their recent series. "They hunt the fastball and they're certainly capable of doing damage when they get it."

Despite the unimpressive results from the pitching staff, the offense has buoyed Toronto to a run differential of 59, the best mark in the American League and second only to St. Louis in all of baseball.

Here are the pitching matchups for the series:

Friday: Joe Kelly (2-4, 5.40 ERA) vs. Drew Hutchison (5-1, 4.91 ERA) Saturday: Clay Buchholz (3-6, 4.07 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (2-6, 5.35 ERA) Sunday: Eduardo Rodriguez (2-0, 0.44 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (3-3, 3.78 ERA)

WHO'S HOT: RED SOX

-- Dustin Pedroia has been one of the lone consistently bright spots in the Red Sox lineup of late. In his past six games, Pedroia is 9-for-24, hitting .375

-- Brock Holt, too, has been solid in the past week, hitting 9-for-21 (for a .429 average) and two RBIs. Three of those hits are doubles, working to a .571 slugging percentage and 1.091 OPS over that span.

-- Hanley Ramirez seems happy that the month of May is over. Ramirez followed an incredible April with a miserable May, and has since returned to hitting well since the calendar flipped once more. Hanley is hitting .333 in June with a home run, seven RBIs and six runs scored.

WHO'S HOT: BLUE JAYS

-- Shortstop Jose Reyes has hit .375 (9-for-24) over his past six games, including two homers, five RBIs and five stolen bases.

-- Josh Donaldson also has raked lately. Acquired from Oakland in the offseason, the third baseman has looked worth the investment, leading the team with a .317 batting average, 17 home runs and 44 RBIs. In the past week, Donaldson is hitting .360, including two home runs and five RBIs.

-- Over the past six contests, Jose Bautista has hit .316. Joey Bats has knocked three homers and five RBIs.

WHO'S NOT: RED SOX

-- Mookie Betts has struggled recently, recording two hits in 17 at-bats over his past six games for a .118 batting average.

-- Mike Napoli continues to be unimpressive at the plate, going 6-for-22 in the past week. Napoli has struck out a whopping nine times in that span.

-- Young catcher Blake Swihart seemed to be turning it around at the dish, but he has come back to Earth in the last week. Swihart has hit only .167 with four strikeouts in 18 at-bats.

WHO'S NOT: BLUE JAYS

-- With the Jays on an eight-game winning streak, there aren't many members of the team struggling right now. Ryan Goins is one, however, as he is hitless in his last 14 at-bats.

-- Kevin Pillar is one Jay who hasn't hit particularly well this season, posting a .240 average. Pillar, however, has made up for it with his masterful defense in the outfield.

-- Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has not had a strong season for the Blue Jays. In 12 starts, he is 2-6 with a 5.35 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.

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