MLB

Blue Jays eye divisional gains, open series with Red Sox

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The Sports Network
7/21/2014 3:21:16 PM
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The Toronto Blue Jays will be looking to regain some ground in the American League East as they open a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Rogers Centre.

Toronto won its first three-game series since June 25th this past weekend by taking two out of three from the Texas Rangers, shaving the Baltimore Orioles' division lead to three games.

The Red Sox will turn to veteran righty John Lackey, who has struggled in his career versus the Blue Jays. going 5-8 with a 5.43 ERA in 10 starts against them. The ERA is his second-highest against any AL club.

Lackey won his last start back on July 11 in Houston, as he held the Astros to a pair of runs in six innings to improve to 10-6 to go along with a 3.79 ERA. He had allowed five earned runs or more in three consecutive starts from late June into July.

Toronto, meanwhile, will counter with righty Drew Hutchison, who has lost four of his last five starts and is 6-8 on the year with a 4.16 ERA. Hutchison was awful on July 12 versus the Tampa Bay Rays, as he was battered to the tune of six runs in 5 1/3 innings. He also walked five batters in the loss.

Hutchison has beaten the Red Sox both times he has faced them and has allowed just two runs in 12 2/3 innings against them.

Toronto enters this series on the heels of a series win over the hapless Texas Rangers. In Sunday's rubber match, Melky Cabrera went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI to propel the Blue Jays to a 9-6 win.

"We came to life today," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "I felt a little more energy in the dugout."

Todd Redmond (1-4) pitched a scoreless seventh inning to earn the win. Mark Buehrle, who started for the Blue Jays, gave up five runs on eight hits and three walks in six innings of work.

Cabrera, whose 124 hits trail only Houston's Jose Altuve in the American League, was 7-for-13 in the series versus the Rangers. His three RBI also match his total from his previous 17 games.

"The All-Star break did him wonders," Gibbons said. "He just needed to refresh a little bit. His hand speed, bat speed looks a little bit better."

The Blue Jays have won each of their last four games versus the Red Sox, including a three-game sweep in Boston from May 20-22.

Boston won for the seventh time in eight games on Sunday, as Jon Lester continued his recent dominance on the hill and the Red Sox completed a three- game sweep of the Kansas City Royals with a 6-0 victory at Fenway Park.

Lester (10-7) scattered four hits and two walks while striking out eight over as many innings to pick up another win.

The left-hander has allowed just one earned run over his last 31 innings and has limited opponents to two earned runs or less in each of his last seven outings, lowering his ERA from 3.52 to 2.50 over that span.

"He's been outstanding," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of his starter. "It's been his best stretch in quite some time."

Daniel Nava drove in three runs and David Ross added a two-run homer in the win for Boston, which is now just six games under .500 (46-52).




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