Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview

August 25, 2014 - 9:11 am
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A trek away from Fenway Park might be just what the slumping Red Sox need at this point in the season. What began with a promising 2-1 start on an 11-game homestand quickly was scuttled thanks to an eight-game losing streak that resulted in a massively disappointing 2-9 mark against the Astros, Angels and Mariners during their season-long stretch at Fenway. Boston'€™s last three games were especially deflating, as the Red Sox blew 3-0 leads in consecutive games and left 15 runners on base Sunday en route to a three-game sweep by the Mariners -- Seattle's first sweep at Fenway since the franchise'€™s inception in 1977. "That's just the game. So many things you can't control," said third baseman Will Middlebrooks after Sunday'€™s game, adding: "What are you going to do?" The remainder of the 2014 season will see the Red Sox mostly taking on their familiar foes in the AL East, as 25 of Boston'€™s final 32 games will be against division opponents, starting with a three-game set against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays have slumped as of late, posting a 3-7 record over their last 10 games -- including a series loss against the Rays that culminated in a 2-1 extra-innings defeat Sunday. The heart of Toronto'€™s lineup was ineffective against Tampa Bay'€™s pitching as Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion were a combined 0-for-17 Sunday. The Red Sox will be looking for a different outcome from the last time they faced off against Toronto on July 28-30, as the Blue Jays outscored Boston 24-4 during a three-game sweep. Here are the probable pitchers for the three-game series. Monday: Clay Buchholz (5-8, 5.94 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (8-8, 4.39 ERA) Tuesday: Rubby De La Rosa (4-5, 3.69 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (10-12, 4.08 ERA) Wednesday: Joe Kelly (0-1, 4.09 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (7-5, 4.11 ERA) WHO'€™S HOT: RED SOX -- Yoenis Cespedes was acquired by Boston at the July 31 trade deadline to drive in runs. So far, he'€™s been doing a great job of it. Since his first game with the Red Sox on Aug. 2, Cespedes has driven in 18 of Boston'€™s 79 runs -- 23 percent of the team'€™s total scoring output. Despite his aggressive approach at the plate, the Cuban left fielder has more RBIs than strikeouts (16) in his 21 games in Boston. -- David Ortiz had an impressive homestand, posting a .515/.636/.970 line with four home runs and nine RBIs over the 11-game set. The designated hitter has reached base multiple times in his last six games, with eight walks and a .647 average. Despite his impressive stretch, Ortiz might be limited against Toronto after fouling a fastball off his foot in the fourth inning of Sunday'€™s game. -- Reliever Alex Wilson has been a great addition to the Red Sox bullpen, compiling a 1.26 ERA with a 0.63 WHIP in seven appearances this season.  The 27-year-old righty had retired 24 batters in a row before hitting Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano with a pitch in the seventh inning of Saturday's game. WHO'€™S HOT: BLUE JAYS -- Jose Reyes has been a productive presence at the top of the Blue Jays lineup, batting .349 in August with seven doubles and seven RBIs. The 31-year-old shortstop has excelled at home this year, hitting .315 with 21 RBIs at Rogers Centre. -- While it'€™s mostly been a disappointing season for center fielder Colby Rasmus, the 28-year-old has shown signs of breaking out of his season-long skid, batting .278 with three extra-base hits over his last seven games. WHO'€™S NOT: RED SOX -- Closer Koji Uehara had a tough stretch over the past two weeks at Fenway, surrendering an earned run in three straight outings -- culminating in a two-thirds inning, five-run showing in his last appearance against the Mariners on Friday. Uehara has given up seven earned runs over his last 2 2/3 innings. -- Buchholz had another setback in his last outing against the Angels Wednesday, as the Sox starter was roughed up for six earned runs over six innings of work. Buchholz has given up at least six earned runs in three of his last five starts. WHO'€™S NOT: BLUE JAYS -- Stroman has come down to earth after his posting a 6-2 record with a 2.12 ERA over his first 11 starts. The young righty has given up five earned runs in three of his last four outings. -- Slugger Jose Bautista has been stuck in a mini-slump as of late, going hitless in his last 11 at-bats. Over his last seven games, the right fielder is batting .111 with two extra-base hits.