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Preview: Blue Jays (78-59) at Red Sox (65-72)
Venue: Fenway Park
Date: September 08, 2015 7:10 PM EDT
It’s been two months since R.A. Dickey lost a start, though he hasn’t faced the Boston Red Sox during that stretch.
Dickey’s unbeaten streak figures to be put to the test by the hot-hitting Red Sox on Tuesday night.
A four-hit complete game in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Cleveland moved Dickey to 7-0 with a 2.78 ERA in 10 post All-Star break starts, becoming the first Blue Jays pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1998 to begin the second half with seven straight victories. The knuckleballer has won his last three and hasn’t lost since a 2-0 defeat to the Chicago White Sox on July 9.
“I’ll tell you what’s worked, the bats have exploded when I pitch,” Dickey (10-10, 4.09 ERA) told MLB’s official site. “It’s such a gift to come and watch these guys play, it really is.”
Toronto (78-59) has totaled 55 runs in winning Dickey’s past eight starts and won 12 of 16 overall, but had its AL East lead trimmed to a half-game following Monday’s 11-4 loss to the Red Sox and the New York Yankees’ win over Baltimore.
Boston (65-72) collected 17 hits and has scored 33 runs while batting .358 over a four-game win streak.
The Red Sox have been troublesome as well for Dickey, who’s posted a 5.76 ERA in losing all three season meetings. He had no such problems while going 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA in five starts versus Boston in 2014.
Mookie Betts is 4 for 11 with two triples against Dickey this season and extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a 3-for-5 effort Monday. He’s batting .396 over that stretch, while Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting .577 with 11 RBIs over an eight-game streak lengthened by going 4 for 4 with a homer and four RBIs in the opener.
‘I think that there is a general overall confidence that he is showing right now,’ Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo said of Bradley. ‘He can walk up to the plate and hit at any count and any pitch at any part of the at-bat, and that is from a lot of hard work behind the scenes that he has put in.’
David Ortiz, three homers shy of 500, doubled twice one day after leaving a game against Philadelphia with right calf tightness. He’s hitting .321 with three homers in 28 at-bats against Dickey and Pablo Sandoval 4 for 12 with a homer and two doubles off him this season.
Sandoval was back in Monday’s lineup after missing the Philadelphia series with back tightness, and Dustin Pedroia could join him Tuesday if cleared to return from a hamstring injury that’s sidelined him since July 22.
Boston’s potent offense couldn’t overcome a rough outing from Henry Owens (2-2, 5.87) on Wednesday, when the rookie left-hander was reached for seven runs in only 1 2-3 innings of a 13-8 home loss to the Yankees.
Owens has an 8.62 ERA while surrendering six homers in 15 2-3 innings in three home assignments, and faces for the first time a Toronto lineup that’s homered an MLB-leading once every 23.56 at-bats versus southpaws.
The 23-year-old did hold Kansas City to one earned run in eight innings at Fenway Park on Aug. 21 to earn his second career win.
Josh Donaldson, hitting .347 off lefties this season, went 3 for 4 with a solo homer Monday. Jose Bautista knocked in two runs and is 6 for 11 with two homers and seven RBIs over the last three games.