The playoff-like series continue, and don't look now, but the Toronto Bluejays may be the toughest of them all. The Sox have struggled all year with the Bluejays (4-7) but more importantly, have whiffed against nearly all the good pitching staffs they've faced (keep in mind, the Bluejays, Rays and Angels have the top three pitching staffs in the AL....we're a combined 12-23 against those teams). This series has seems to have a lot of commonalities with what Boston is likely to see in the playoffs; great pitching balanced with good hitting and a team that always keeps its opponents on their toes (see the Angels). Cito Gaston has turned this team around, they've won 11 of their last 12 but still sit 7 games out of the wild card in the loss column. That said, Toronto has 7 games left with the Red Sox (4 at Fenway, 3 in Toronto), so they are not yet completely out of the picture.
The Red Sox have the opportunity to do two things in the four game series. They can show that their lineup is good enough to hit good pitching in the playoffs, and they can lock up the wildcard while inching closer to the Rays in the East (the Rays have a series against the 4th place Yanks). Not to go back in time, but the Red Sox dropped the ball last series against the Rays. They had the chance, with all pitching match ups in their favor, to close the gap and send a message. They didn't. The Bluejays however don't make things any easier.
A key component will be getting JD Drew back.....if JD decides he still wants to play baseball and not take up horse-raising in Georgia (what?). JD was expected back in the series finale against the Rays but his back tightened up yet again. There is no word yet if he'll be in the lineup tonight. The Sox will need all the bats they can get in their lineup this weekend. This will not be an easy series, it may be too little too late for Toronto, who seem to be king of the insignificant victories lately, but this is important for the Sox.
Series Match ups:
Tim Wakefield (8-10, 4.11 era)
David Purcey (3-5, 5.23 era) * Keep in mind that he blanked the Rays for 7 innings in his last start.
DOUBLEHEADER Saturday (gotta love doubleheaders)
Paul Byrd (4-1, 3.82 era) *Numbers are since joining the Sox.....you're welcome Paul.
AJ Burnett (17-10, 4.31 era)
The return of Bartolo Colon (4-2, 4.09 era)
Jesse Litch (11-8, 3.70)
Jon Lester (14-5, 3.23 era)
Roy Halladay (18-10, 2.77 era)
and oh....once we're through with this series, we travel to Tampa for 3.....keep the faith, go sox.