|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
For the first time in months, the Red Sox do not control their destiny in the playoff race. They lost the division lead to the Yankees and with the series loss to the Rangers, have ceded the Wild Card lead to them. The Red Sox continue their road trip north of the border to Toronto, who they are 5-4 against, but only 2-4 at the Rogers Centre.
Josh Beckett (14-4, 3.10 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), who has yet to face the Jays this season, opens the series against Ricky Romero (0-2, 8.1 IP, 9 ER, 11 H, 13 K, 10 BB vs. BOS in 2009). Clay Buchholz (1-0, 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 3 K, 3 BB vs. TOR this season) and Roy Halladay (1-0, CG, 9.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 7 K, 0 BB), who were nearly traded for each other, face off in the second game. The getaway game features Jon Lester (2-1, 19.1 IP, 5 ER, 16 H, 22 K, 9 BB) and Brian Tallet (1-1, 13.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 11 K, 6 BB).
The Red Sox bring their A-team to the mound with Beckett and Lester as well as Buchholz, who pitched very well against the Jays amidst the trade winds swirling around him. Halladay is in the Cy Young mix again and Romero is a good young talent. Tallet has pitched better against the Red Sox than the rest of his outings this season. In the back end, the Blue Jays are a bit of a mess. B. J. Ryan started the season as the closer, but was not getting the job done and was removed from his post, disabled, sent to the minors, and ultimately released. Scott Downs took over, but is now on the disabled list as well, leaving the job to Jason Frasor who is 6/8 in save chances. He has a 1.91 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 8.08 K/9.
The Blue Jays offense is seeing the majority of the re-modeling as they reload for next year. General Manager J. P. Riccardi seemed to feel they could compete this season, but when the injuries hit and the losing started, they seemed to pack it in and shifted to a financial flexibility mode as they hope to try again next season. Their batting average leader, Scott Rolen, was traded to the Reds and slumping big contract star Alex Rios was waived and claimed by the White Sox. As for players remaining, Marco Scutaro, who the Red Sox were eying, is hitting .300 and playing a solid defensive shortstop. Adam Lind is hitting .295 with 36 doubles, 24 home runs, 74 RBI, and 66 runs. Aaron Hill has a similar line with a .288 BA, 28 HR, 80 RBI, and 70 R.
Fortunately, this is not the same Blue Jays team they have faced so far this season. The Red Sox should be able to get back on track in this series, hopefully getting the bats working enough to take two of the three games.