The reeling Boston Red Sox will try to turn things around on Friday when they welcome the Toronto Blue Jays to Fenway Park to begin a three-game series.
Despite losing three straight at home to the Twins this week, Boston is in a three-way logjam with New York and Baltimore atop the AL East standings. The Red Sox have dropped six of seven overall.
"I don't think anybody's worried about the last seven games," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "We're just coming out playing that day hard and trying to win. It's the big leagues. Everybody's good. We're going to have to try to find a way to get that big hit or come up in a big situation and find a way to get it done. We'll do that."
In Thursday's 5-3 setback to Minnesota, starter John Lackey committed a costly error in the sixth inning and then gave up a two-run homer. After starting strong, Lackey went on to give up five runs (one earned) to go along with eight strikeouts for his third loss.
The Blue Jays had a season-best three-game win streak earlier this week, but they lost back-to-back games at Tampa Bay to settle for a four-game split in that series.
They lost in extra innings on Thursday, 5-4, as reliever Brad Lincoln walked the only two batters he faced. One of those walks forced in the game-winning run with bases loaded and two outs in the 10th inning, as Lincoln misfired on four consecutive pitches to Luke Scott after getting ahead in the count, 0-2.
"You shouldn't lose games like that," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You've got to throw strikes. It's pretty simple. It's not always the easiest thing to do, but you need to throw strikes. Get beat, let 'em hit their way to victory."
It was a matchup between 2012 Cy Young winners, although neither pitcher factored into the decision. Toronto's R.A. Dickey left after six innings with a one-run lead, while Rays starter David Price lasted eight innings and struck out eight.
Right-hander Ramon Ortiz was called up from Triple-A Buffalo and will get the start for the Blue Jays, who sent struggling lefty Ricky Romero back down to the minors. Ortiz made one appearance with the big league club against the White Sox on April 17 after starter J.A. Happ gave up five runs. Ortiz pitched 3 1/3 innings in that game and gave up two runs on five hits.
Boston will turn to unbeaten Jon Lester, who has already faced Toronto twice this season. The lefty allowed three runs on five hits in six innings of work against the Rangers on Sunday, striking out seven. Lester has fanned at least five batters in each of his starts.
Boston took two of three against Toronto in each of the two prior series between these teams this season.