|Rob Gronkowski Cleared to Play for Patriots||Dustin Pedroia grants wish of 12-year old boy||2014 Patriots Offensive Line Preview: Solder, Mankins, Stork, Cannon, Vollmer||Bill Belichick Coaching Elsewhere? Albert Breer Stirs the Speculation Pot|
The Red Sox took three of four against the White Sox to boost their lead to 1.5 games over the Rangers in the Wild Card race. Toronto comes to town for a three-game series and they have really hit the skids since the non-trade of Roy Halladay at the deadline, going 17-29 in July and August. Halladay, in particular, has struggled, going 3-6 since June 29, but his run support has dried up with the offense having already gone south for the winter. The Red Sox are 8-4 against the Blue Jays this season, including a three-game sweep in the only series in Boston back in May.
The Red Sox bring their best to the series with Clay Buchholz being sandwiched by aces Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. Beckett (5.1 IP, 7 ER, 9 H, 4 K, 1 BB vs TOR) was rocked in his only previous start against the Blue Jays a couple weeks ago, falling victim to the long ball three times in an eventual Red Sox win. He opens up against Scott Richmond (6-7, 4.09 ERA, 1.29 WHIP), who has thrown two scoreless relief innings against the Red Sox this season. Buchholz (2-0, 11.2 IP, 2 ER, 10 H, 7 K, 4 BB vs TOR), whose only two wins on the season are against the Blue Jays takes on potential Rookie of the Year Ricky Romero (0-2, 12.0 IP, 14 ER, 19 H, 13 K, 7 BB vs BOS), whose numbers (11-5, 3.91 ERA, 1.42 WHIP overall) are far better against any team not from Boston. Lester (3-1, 27.1 IP, 6 ER, 19 H, 27 K, 11 BB vs TOR) looks to continue his mastery of the Jays in the finale against Halladay (1-1, 14.0 IP, 5 ER, 14 H, 14 K, 2 BB vs BOS).
The Blue Jays tried to move Roy Halladay to get a big package back, including a mix of major league ready players and high value prospects, in an attempt to rebuild for next year. They did, however, get a couple deals done, including moving Scott Rolen and unloading the big contract of Alex Rios. This gives them some flexibility for next season since they think they are close, but has hurt their offense in the short term. The Blue Jays are building around young stars Aaron Hill (.286 BA, 30 HR, 82 RBI, 76 R) and Adam Lind (.300, 25, 80, 68). Travis Snider is a promising rookie, but has struggled so far this season, both when he was up early in the season and in his recent call-up. He was 2-9 in the last series against the Red Sox and is hitting .244 overall with six home runs in 127 at bats.
The Red Sox need to take advantage of the weakened Blue Jays, who they struggled against early in the season. The Jays have changed a lot and Halladay is thought to be potentially emotionally worn down after the non-trade and the prospect of another season without playoffs. They also have their best pitcher in Beckett opening the series and follow that up with two guys who have owned Toronto this season. It really is the perfect scenario for the Red Sox and having the Jays offense looking blue cannot hurt. The Red Sox should sweep this series.