The Toronto Blue Jays began their current seven-game trip riding a franchise-tying winning streak, but have struggled to simply win a game this week.
Looking to get back on track, the Blue Jays try to keep the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox from a fourth consecutive win Friday night.Toronto (39-39) won 11 in a row before losing two of three at Tampa Bay, then was unable to recover after Boston (48-33) scored all its runs in the second inning of a 7-4 victory Thursday."You assume you're going to cool off a little bit. That's the way the game works," manager John Gibbons told the Blue Jays' official website. "But you can't have any reversed fortunes."Dustin Pedroia's two-run homer off Chien-Ming Wang highlighted the big inning for the Red Sox, who have opened a nine-game homestand outscoring opponents 23-11 in three straight wins. They've won 13 of 17 at Fenway Park.However, the Red Sox received a scare when Jon Lester left in the eighth inning with an apparent injury."I slipped a little bit. I guess the doctors were kind of calling it a little jammed hip, a type of zinging sensation down my leg." Lester said."I'm not too worried about it. The doctors didn't seem worried about it."The Red Sox are already minus nine-game winner Clay Buchholz, who continues to recover from a neck injury.That means Allen Webster (0-2, 11.25 ERA) gets a second straight start, and third career, since he was recalled from the minors over the weekend. The right-hander needs to be better than Saturday when he gave up a first-inning grand slam to Victor Martinez and one other run in 4 1/3 innings of a 10-3 loss at Detroit."The four runs given back in the first set the tone for the entire evening," Boston manager John Farrell said. "I think he settled down after the first inning and pitched OK."Toronto counters with Josh Johnson (1-2, 4.60), who pitched well for five innings then allowed four runs and couldn't get out of the seventh inning, but earned his first win as a Blue Jay in Sunday's 13-5 victory over Baltimore."Another good outing for him. That's one win," Gibbons said. "Getting on the board so you've got something to show for it always makes you feel good."The right-hander is making his first appearance at Fenway, but is 1-0 with a 3.15 ERA in three starts versus Boston. He gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings of a 6-4 loss to the Red Sox on April 5.Pedroia, 2 for 5 with a double against Johnson, is 9 for 16 with six RBIs in four games since he batted .146 with four RBIs in the previous 11.Teammate Jacoby Ellsbury has hit safely in eight straight games and .382 with 11 RBIs his last 25. He's in the midst of an 11-game hitting streak versus Toronto.The Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion hit .350 with four homers and 12 RBIs during the 11-game winning streak, but since then is 2 for 15 with a solo homer in four contests.Toronto put outfielder Melky Cabrera on the 15-day disabled list with left knee tendinitis after Thursday's loss and recalled infielder Munenori Kawasaki from Triple-A Buffalo. Kawasaki was sent down after Tuesday's game to make room on the roster for shortstop Jose Reyes.
Since returning from the disabled list, Josh Johnson has allowed a well-hit ball in 13 percent of at-bats ending in his fastball, nearly 15 percentage points better than in his first four starts. The Red Sox will be a good test because they have a well-hit ball in 21 percent of at-bats ending in a fastball, fourth-best in the league.