The Boston Red Sox (47-54) try to even the series in the finale against the Toronto Blue Jays (53-49) in Thursday's get-away afternoon game. After opening the series with a dominating win that produced a season high in hits and runs scored, the Red Sox followed that up by dropping two straight to their division rivals.
Boston spotted Clay Buchholz an early lead when David Ortiz crushed a 3-run homer in the first inning, only to watch their struggling starter give it all back in the bottom of the inning. Buchholz did settle down over the next several innings, until an RBI triple by Ryan Goins tied the score and a costly error by Xander Bogaerts allowed him to score the winning run.
With the trade deadline looming one week from today, the Red Sox could really use a win to close this series to prove they can stay in this race. Expectations were raised after a 5-game win streak and some signs of life from the offense, but losing three straight to another team in the division would undo most of the good that streak had done.
- Rubby De La Rosa (3-2, 2.64 ERA) takes the hill for Boston. While he's been outstanding at home this season, he's 0-2 with a 4.42 ERA in 3 road starts this season. At least his last road start in Oakland went well, when he gave up only 1 run over 7 innings to the best offense in the majors. This banged up Blue Jays offense can still be dangerous and Toronto has a much more difficult park to pitch in than the one in Oakland, so this will be a big test for De La Rosa.
- Dustin Pedroia is getting a rare day off (he's played in 99 out of the team's first 101 games). Some rest comes at a much needed time for the veteran second baseman, who has only 2 hits in 24 at-bats since the All-Star break.
- Brock Holt will get the start at 2B today, making him the first player in Red Sox history to start games at 7 different positions in a season (pitcher and catcher are the only ones he's never played). Holt has previously spent time at 2B after shifting over to the position late in the game, but this is his first game starting at the position.
- The Red Sox lost for the first time with Christian Vazquez behind the dish last night, after the rookie got off to a 5-game win streak as the starting catcher. Now he'll get his first chance to start back-to-back games, as David Ross deals with a lingering foot issue. Ross does not believe that he'll need a trip to the DL and plans to play through it, but the Red Sox may increase Vazquez's playing time until Ross gets healthier.
- Marcus Stroman (5-2, 3.58 ERA) gets the start for Toronto. The rookie has made 9 starts since moving to the rotation at the end of May and has been pretty solid so far. Aside from a couple of hiccups against the A's and Yankees where he failed to get out of the 4th inning, Stroman has gone at least 6 innings and given up 3 runs or less in all his other starts.
- Melky Cabrera leads the Blue Jays with a .307 average (among qualified hitters). Many took the former All-Star's performance with a grain of salt after his 50-game PED suspension in 2012 – especially after a down season last year. Yet he's bounced back this year with another strong campaign. He got caught cheating in the past, but that doesn't mean he's not still a talented player when he's clean.
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