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Preview: Blue Jays (78-58) at Red Sox (64-72)
Venue: Fenway Park
Date: September 07, 2015 1:35 PM EDT
Mark Buehrle got an extra day of rest to combat fatigue after his latest outing, and his recent success against the Boston Red Sox perhaps made that decision a little easier for Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.
The left-hander will seek to win his fourth consecutive start against the Red Sox, who might not have a red-hot David Ortiz on Monday.
Buehrle (14-6, 3.53 ERA) gave up two runs over six innings of a 9-2 victory over Detroit on Aug. 30 – his first win in three outings – but told the Blue Jays he felt tired after that game. In response, Gibbons switched his spot in the rotation with Marco Estrada, giving the veteran a chance to start the series opener at Fenway Park.
“I think it’s a little bit of everything. It’s just that time of year. I don’t know if it’s dead arm or whatever,” Buehrle told MLB’s official website. “I’m going out there trying to give everything I’ve got.”
Buehrle likely doesn’t mind as he’s 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA in his last three starts at Fenway and 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his past three overall against the Red Sox. He yielded one run over seven innings in an 11-2 home win July 1.
Buehrle could see similar support after the Blue Jays’ high-scoring lineup appeared to get back on track with Sunday’s 10-4 win over Baltimore. Toronto had averaged 3.8 runs in its previous five games, well below its MLB-best mark of 5.5 per game.
Jose Bautista hit his 33rd home run and an RBI double in the Jays’ 28th win in 35 games. Toronto (78-58) is the first team since the 2004 Houston Astros to reach 20 games above .500 after previously having a losing record following the All-Star break.
The Blue Jays, 1 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees in the AL East, will try to pad that lead by working toward another sweep at Fenway. They took three straight there June 12-14 but are just 7-6 in this season’s series.
Buehrle and his teammates might not have to face Ortiz after he was forced to leave Sunday’s 6-2 win against Philadelphia because of tightness in his right calf. Ortiz hit his fifth homer in nine games, the 497th of his career and his 200th at Fenway to help Boston (64-72) complete a three-game sweep.
Ortiz is also batting .393 with nine extra-base hits and 10 RBIs in his last nine contests. He’s hit four homers in his past six against Toronto but has four hits in his last 21 at-bats against Buehrle with a solo home run.
“We’re trying to figure out how he did it, whether it was during the swing or whether it was when he was running the bases,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “We thought it was the best thing to take him off the field and re-evaluate him (Monday) morning.”
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is not slated to return from the disabled list (hamstring) until Tuesday at the earliest.
Those absences could hinder Rick Porcello’s chances of getting improved support. The right-hander has received a combined four runs in his last five starts, going 1-3 despite a 2.79 ERA.
Porcello (6-12, 5.21) gave up three runs – one earned – in eight innings Tuesday in a 3-1 loss to the Yankees.
He was tagged for seven runs in two innings while pitching opposite Buehrle on July 1 and yielded one run and two hits over seven innings in a 4-1 win at Fenway on April 29.