The team with the best record in the American League shoots for a ninth straight victory this afternoon as the Boston Red Sox tangle with the Toronto Blue Jays in the finale of a three-game set at Rogers Centre.
Boston, which is an impressive 19-13 on the road thus far in 2011, is in the midst of a nine-game road trip that has the club dropping in on fellow AL East foes. The team has already swept bitter rival New York in three games and is ready to do the same versus Toronto, with Tampa Bay next on the list starting on Tuesday.
Yesterday the Red Sox put it all together as they recorded a season-high 16 runs in a 16-4 win over the Jays. It was the second time in the last four games that Boston has scored double-digit runs and the fifth time doing so since May 20.
Jason Varitek and David Ortiz both launched three-run homers in the fifth inning on Saturday as the Sox belted out 18 total hits in the onslaught.
Former Blue Jay Marco Scutaro accounted for four hits and Dustin Pedroia cracked two doubles and collected three RBI for the Red Sox as they extended their win streak to a season-high eight games.
"We've got a pretty good lineup," Scutaro acknowledged. "We've got guys who have had success before, guys with power and speed. We're swinging the bat pretty good now."
John Lackey worked his way through six innings to earn the win, giving up four runs on six hits while fanning eight and walking two.
Toronto starter Brandon Morrow was touched for nine runs on 10 hits in only 4 1/3 innings as he suffered his fourth loss in six decisions. Because the game was so lopsided, the Blue Jays actually put utility man Mike McCoy on the hill in the ninth inning after he began the meeting at second base. Surprisingly, with his lackluster speed he was able to set down the side in order.
Edwin Encarnacion connected on a two-run home run and Adam Lind chipped in two hits for the Blue Jays, whose losing streak reached three games. Toronto is now fourth in the AL East standings, one game below .500 and 6 1/2 games off the pace set by Boston.
Hitting the hill for the Red Sox this afternoon is Jon Lester as he shoots for his ninth win of the campaign. The left-hander, already 1-0 this season against the Blue Jays and 8-4 in his career with a 3.59 ERA versus the club, has won four of his last five starts.
On Tuesday Lester faced off against the New York Yankees and helped Boston secure a 6-4 win by permitting just three runs on eight hits and a walk, while striking out five. Lester also hit a couple of batters for the second straight outing and now has a league-high nine HBPs.
As for the Jays, they are putting their faith in young right-hander Kyle Drabek on the afternoon. The Texas native, now in his second professional season, was knocked around a bit on Tuesday versus Kansas City and still earned a win in the 8-5 road triumph.
In that contest Drabek surrendered nine hits and issued three walks, which resulted in five runs over 5 1/3 innings. The 23-year old has had some serious control problems so far this season, permitting 48 walks against just 43 strikeouts.
Thanks to the huge offensive effort on Saturday the Red Sox lifted their team batting average to .274 which tops in the AL at the moment, with the Jays not that far behind in fourth place at .261. Taking into account yesterday's game, the Toronto pitching staff is now third from the bottom in the AL in terms of ERA with a mark of 4.20.
The squad is also the only team in the league with just a single shutout, while Boston has posted a total of six such efforts. Dating back to 2009 the Red Sox have dominated the series with Toronto by winning 29 of the 44 matchups.