The Toronto Blue Jays look to continue their season-long dominance of the Red Sox and sweep a three-game road series in Boston on Sunday.
Toronto is 9-3 against its American League East rival after clinching the fourth straight series this season with Saturday’s 4-1 win.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s club showed improved effort compared to Friday’s 28-5 loss, in which they allowed the most runs in a single game in franchise history.
But, there is work to be done.
“We just got to keep playing hard. It’s not going to get easier,” said Cora, whose team is 3-12 in its last 15 games. “We’re banged up, we know that, but like I said before, nobody’s going to feel sorry for us.”
Injuries have been an issue as of late for Boston. All-Star designated hitter J.D. Martinez missed a second straight game with back spasms on Saturday.
“He doesn’t feel great,” Cora said. “Hopefully by (Sunday) or Monday, he’ll be back in the lineup.”
The Red Sox seemingly survived a Saturday scare as shortstop Xander Bogaerts was hit by a pitch in the hand and remained in the game.
Brayan Bello (0-1, 10.13 ERA) returns to the majors to make his third start of the season for Boston. He was recalled from Triple-A Worcester on Friday.
Pitching reinforcements could be on the way, too. Rich Hill (left knee sprain) is slated to throw in the bullpen Sunday, while Matt Barnes (shoulder inflammation) is coming off a Friday rehab appearance.
The Jays are now 6-1 under interim manager John Schneider, winning two different types of games in the series. A three-run third inning proved to be the difference on Saturday.
“That was awesome. Before the game, we talked about how you can come out a little bit sleepy or we came out hot,” Schneider said on Friday. “We came out hot.”
George Springer and Alejandro Kirk have both reached base safely in eight straight games and look to help the Toronto offense to a sweep in Boston.
Boston, meanwhile, hasn’t won a divisional series yet this season. The Sox are 12-28 against AL East foes.
“It’s tough to lose against the AL East but in the end, you’re just trying to get into the playoffs,” Bogaerts said.
Ross Stripling (5-3, 3.03) has been outstanding since taking on a more permanent role in the starting rotation in early June, allowing more than two earned runs just once in his last eight outings.
The righty earned the win in his most recent start on July 13, holding Philadelphia to two hits and two unearned runs in seven innings. He has struck out six batters in back-to-back games.
Times have changed for Stripling, who had a 14.90 ERA in 9 2/3 innings against Boston last season.
“I choose to — if you guys watch ‘Ted Lasso’ — be a goldfish,” Stripling said about those three outings last year. “Forget it. Move on from it. These guys have my number, but now I look on …”
Though Stripling hasn’t won either of his two starts against the Red Sox in 2022, he has allowed just three earned runs in 10 innings. He will face Boston for the ninth time in his career. He is 2-3 with a 6.09 ERA in eight starts.
–Field Level Media