Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview

April 25, 2014 - 11:54 am

The Red Sox will look to bounce back from a rough series against the Yankees as they travel north of the border to take on the Blue Jays for the first time in 2014.

Thursday night's contest was about as ugly as it gets. The Red Sox committed a total of five errors on the evening, something the team has not done since April of 2001. Three wild pitches, three stolen bases against, and one passed ball and ugly performances from both Felix Doubront and the Red Sox bullpen led to a 14-5 rout against the Yankees in the series finale. In an effort to save the bullpen a bit, manager John Farrell even put in first baseman/outfielder/apparent knuckleballer Mike Carp to pitch the ninth inning.

"That's as bad as we can play," catcher David Ross told Ian Browne of "That's a terrible game to be a part of. That's not big league baseball." After dropping the rubber game of the set against New York, the Red Sox drop to 10-13 on the season. They've lost three of their seven series while splitting one. The Red Sox lineup will get a little more stability over the weekend, however, with Shane Victorino making his season debut on Thursday night and third baseman Will Middlebrooks being activated before Friday's game. The Blue Jays will look to pull back above the .500 mark after dropping two of three games at home against the Orioles. Despite solid contributions from key members of their lineup and impressive performances from starters like Mark Buehrle and Drew Hutchison, the Jays sit in third place in the AL East with a 11-11 record. Here are the pitching matchups for the weekend set: Jake Peavy (0-0, 3.33) vs. Mark Buehrle (4-0, 0.64) Clay Buchholz (0-2, 7.71) vs. Brandon Morrow (1-1, 5.03) Jon Lester (2-3, 2.67) vs. R.A. Dickey (1-3, 5.90) WHO'S HOT: RED SOX

- Though he hasn't been as dominant as Koji Uehara or as surprising as Chris Capuano, Junichi Tazawa has been nothing but impressive so far in 2013. The righty has allowed just eight hits and one walk in his 10 scoreless innings, and he's averaging a strikeout per inning with 10 on the season.

- The Red Sox offense is not yet clicking on all cylinders, but Mike Napoli has been consistently productive al season long. Napoli went 5-for-12 with a home run (a laser off of Masahiro Tanaka) and two doubles in the three games against the Yankees, and brought his line to .294/.381/.529 through 22 games this season. He's also shown some serious toughness over the last couple weeks, missing just one game despite dislocating a finger and taking a fastball off the kneecap in a game against the Orioles.

- Xander Bogaerts has faced his trials in the field, but he seems to be heating up at the plate. The 21-year-old is batting .321 with three extra-base hits over his last eight games while driving in five runs. Even more impressive is the plate approach he's shown; Bogaerts has drawn five walks in his last 36 plate appearances while striking out just six times.


- Jays' slugger Jose Bautista looks to be in midseason form. He's already clubbed six home runs and ranks second on the club with 14 RBIs. But it's not his power that stands out. The 33-year-old has walked an astonishing 27 times in just 22 games, which (unsurprisingly) leads the majors. Even more impressive is that fact that he's only struck out 16 times on the year. Bautista leads the American League and ranks second in the majors with a .475 OBP.

- After a mediocre 2013, his first season in a Blue Jays uniform, veteran starter Buehrle is off to a surprisingly dominant start to 2014. Buehrle flaunts the lowest ERA in the majors, coming into Friday night with a 0.64 mark, allowing just two runs in his 28 innings of work. He's held opponents to a .210 average over his first four outings.

- Outfielder Melky Cabrera is about as hot as they come right now, and he has been for the entire season. Cabrera has notched a hit in all but one of his 22 games played so far, with half of those contests being multi-hit performances. The 29-year-old is batting .350/.375/.580 with five home runs, six doubles and a triple in 104 plate appearances this season, and has gone 13-for-27 over his last six games.


- The usually-solid Craig Breslow had one of his worst outings in Thursday night' s 14-5 debacle against the Yankees. The lefty allowed a total of five runs (four earned) on five hits and three walks over his inning of work. Though he began the year with three scoreless performances, the reliever has given up runs in back-to-back outings.

- Though Jackie Bradley Jr. provides a lot of value in the field, he hasn't been able to get much going at the plate. The speedy center fielder has just five hits in his last 43 at-bats, and went just 1-for-9 in the series against the Yankees. Despite the lack of hits, however, Bradley has been finding ways to get on base, drawing 10 walks in 74 plate appearances and owning a .324 OBP despite batting just .206 on the season.

- Buchholz had one of his shortest outings in recent memory in his last start, lasting just 2 1/3 innings and allowing six runs on seven hits and a walk to the Orioles while striking out just one. Buchholz has struggled badly in two of his four starts, and has not been able to make it into the seventh inning in any start this year. He enters the series with a 7.71 ERA and an ugly 1.929 WHIP.


- It'€™s been a tough week for Blue Jays relievers. The Jays'€™ bullpen was to blame for Toronto'€™s loss on Thursday night, as a six-inning, two-run effort by starter Hutchison was wasted. Neil Wagner recorded just one out while allowing a run, Brett Cecil was unable to record any outs while allowing four runs on two hits and two walks, while Esmil Rogers was unable to contain the damage and allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits in his 1 2/3 of work. Back on April 17, another bullpen meltdown led to a loss against the Twins, when Steve Delabar allowed two runs and closer Sergio Santos received a blown save and loss after he was unable to get an out, giving up three runs and walking three.

- Center fielder Colby Rasmus hasn't been able to produce much at the plate so far this season. Rasmus has struggled mightily as of late, with just three hits in his last 28 at-bats (although of those went for extra bases). The 27-year-old is hitting just .195/.253/.416 on the season.

-Second baseman Ryan Goins has not impressed offensively in his first year as the Blue Jays' full-time second baseman. The rookie began the season with an ugly 1-for-22 slump, and has only one multi-hit performance this season. He heads into the series batting .148 with a .429 OPS.