The Red Sox will travel to Toronto for four games to take on the Blue Jays, who lead all of baseball in runs scored. (Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview

June 29, 2015 - 4:52 am
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To conclude a very division-heavy slate of games, the Red Sox will finish up their week-long road trip with a four-game series at Rogers Centre in Toronto to take on the Blue Jays. Previously the only other team in the basement of the AL East, the Jays, though still in fourth, are five games over .500 and just a half-game out of the wild card slot. Now the only team in the division with a sub-.500 ERA, the Sox will be put to the test against a team that, for a stretch of time, just wasn't losing. The Blue Jays have lost just seven games in the month of June, which for them has included an 11-game winning streak that contained a sweep of the Red Sox. However, Boston has the best team batting average this month (.281), the most hits in the American League (253), the most doubles of any team in the majors (56), the fourth-highest on-base percentage (.331), the fifth-best slugging percentage (.445) and the third-most extra-base hits (89). After scoring just 2.83 runs per game in May, the Sox have averaged 4.58 per contest in June. "More than anything, it's just the relaxation in the batter's box by every guy that walks to the plate," manager John Farrell said after a 13-2 win over the Royals on June 21. "You see a lot of close pitches being taken, we're not expanding the strike zone. "The ability to build the inning is becoming more evident," he added. The Jays also have had offensive success recently, putting up the most runs of any team in the league this month (152), the third-most home runs (37), the most RBIs (147), the second-most walks (85), the fourth-fewest strikeouts (171), the second-best on-base percentage (.339) and the third-best slugging percentage (.460). Toronto's pitching has been reliable as well, posting a 3.23 ERA over the last 25 games as a staff and allowing the eighth-fewest earned runs this month in the league, fifth-fewest in the American League alone. Blue Jays pitching has the fourth-best team WHIP this month at 1.18 and is holding opposing batters to a third-best .239 AVG. So while the Red Sox don't seem to consistently get support from both sides of the ball, as their team ERA in June is 23rd overall despite their offensive success, the Blue Jays do. Manager John Gibbons attributes a lot of this success to the chemistry of the team and how different the players are as a unit. "I'm proud of the guys," manager John Gibbons said after a 12-inning, 1-0 win over the Rays on Thursday. "This is a more character team than we've had in the past. They just don't quit. Sometimes you lose your intensity, but it doesn't happen with this group." Here are the pitching matchups for the series: Monday: Clay Buchholz (5-6, 3.68) vs. R.A. Dickey (3-7, 4.88 ERA) Tuesday: Eduardo Rodriguez (3-2, 4.33 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (5-3, 3.45 ERA) Wednesday: Rick Porcello (4-8, 5.54 ERA) vs. Mark Buehrle (8-4, 3.81) Thursday: Wade Miley (7-7, 4.38) vs. Matt Boyd (0-1, 5.40 ERA) WHO'S HOT: RED SOX -- In his last 25 at-bats, Xander Bogaerts is slashing .320/.320/.440. The shortstop has eight hits, three of which were doubles, and managed to knock in a run while scoring three of his own. -- Alejandro De Aza is slugging .949 in his past five games, belting three home runs and a double while going 6-for-17 at the plate. He has six RBIs in that time and crossed the plate himself five times. -- Clay Buchholz has recorded two straight starts in which he has allowed fewer than two earned runs. Over his past 14 innings of work, the righty has a 0.64 ERA and issued just two walks, striking out 10 as well. WHO'S HOT: BLUE JAYS -- Jays designated hitter Dioner Navarro is batting .333 in his last five games, going 6-for-18 and driving half of those hits for extra bases with a double and two homers. He's also walked once, scored four runs and notched two RBIs with three strikeouts. -- Josh Donaldson continues his successful season for Toronto with a home run and a pair of RBIs in his most recent five games. He's six for his last 21 (.286) with a walk and six strikeouts. -- Marco Estrada has allowed just one earned run and three hits in his last two starts. In those 15 2/3 innings, the right-hander has a 0.57 ERA and struck out 16 batters, holding opponents to a .060/.130/.080 slash line. WHO'S NOT: RED SOX -- Brock Holt is just two for his last 24 with 10 strikeouts, though he has a pair of RBIs and three walks in that time as well. His slash line is an anemic .083/.185/.083, and he hasn't ripped an extra-base hit since he had two doubles and a triple on June 21. -- Mookie Betts had a 13-game hit streak snapped Saturday and has just four hits in his past 24 at-bats, due to the fact that he didn't record a hit in either of his last two games and hasn't had a multi-hit game since June 21. That six-game drought without more than one hit is tied for his third longest of the year, as he had a nine-game streak without multiple hits from April 14 to April 23 and an seven-game one from June 5 to June 12 as well. -- Matt Barnes has given up at least one earned run in each of his last four appearances. He had been sent down after surrendering one on June 13 but returned Saturday and allowed two in 1 2/3 innings. Barnes has a 4.82 ERA this year in the big leagues, and it'€™s 13.50 in those most recent 4 2/3 frames. During that span, batters have slashed .409/.435/.909 against Barnes, who has conceded five extra-base hits of the nine total registered. WHO'S NOT: BLUE JAYS -- Jose Bautista has just one hit in his last 20 at-bats, though he has walked six times and that one hit was a home run, for a slash line of .050/.269/.200. The right fielder also scored four runs and struck out five times. -- Jose Reyes is 3-for-23 over his past six games with three RBIs, a home run and a stolen base. The shortstop has walked three times and gone down by way of the K three times as well. -- Russell Martin is batting .067 in his last five games with just one hit in 15 at-bats. He has a home run, two RBIs, three walks and five strikeouts in that period.