Clay Buchholz will take the mound against Toronto for the first time since being accused of doctoring the ball when the Blue Jays battle the Red Sox in the second game of a three-game set.
In Friday night's series opener, Jon Lester was absolutely dominant with just a double from Maicer Izturis in the sixth inning, breaking up an otherwise no-hit effort. Lester threw 118 pitches and struck out five in the one-hitter as he pitched his first complete game of the season.
Lester (5-0) earned the 5-0 win thanks to an offensive outburst in the seventh inning when the Sox scored four of their five runs with the biggest blow coming on a two-run double from Daniel Nava.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Dustin Pedroia also drove in runs in the inning with each collecting a pair of hits in the game as well. David Ortiz was 0- for-3 in the game after his 27-game hit streak was put to rest.
The win was just the second for the Red Sox in the last eight games.
Toronto starter Ramon Ortiz (0-1) went five innings and allowed just a single run though he walked five. Brett Cecil took the brunt of the Red Sox run production, allowing three runs in 1 1/3 innings of work but Ortiz took the loss. Toronto has lost three straight.
On Saturday, Mark Buehrle will once again try to figure things out and justify the huge contract he received from Miami last season that has followed him to Toronto. The left-hander is 1-2 on the season but has not been missing many bats this year with his ERA at an elevated 7.02.
The last three starts for Buehrle have been disastrous as he has allowed at least five runs in each. In fact, this season he has allowed at least five runs in all but two of his seven starts, though the Blue Jays are above .500 (4-3) in games when he takes the hill.
Buehrle has still been the innings eater of old despite his struggles with keeping opponents off the scoreboard as he has gone at least six innings in four of the last five starts. That includes a start on May 1 against the Red Sox, when he went 6 2/3 innings and allowed five runs on seven hits while striking out just a single batter which was a season low.
In his career against Boston, Buehrle has six wins in 20 total appearances with an ERA of 4.75.
Looking to bounce back from his worst start of the season will be Buchholz when he toes the rubber for Boston. There is also another level of intrigue to this matchup as the last time Buchholz faced the Blue Jays two Toronto analysts accused him of using a foreign substance on his arm to get a better grip on the ball.
So Buchholz will be pitching with plenty of motivation as he also looks to correct the mistakes he had in his last outing when he allowed a season-high four runs in six innings of work.
Though he gave up more runs than normal, Buchholz was still as effective in getting punchouts as he struck out nine batters. On the season, Buchholz has 56 strikeouts, which is tied with Seattle's Felix Hernandez and Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw for the fifth most in the majors. The rest of Buchholz's numbers are just as stellar as he is one of two pitchers in the majors with six wins (6-0) and with an ERA of 1.60 among the top five pitchers in baseball in that category.
The two analysts that brought up the foreign substance may have had a reason to as the Blue Jays themselves had no answers for Buchholz last time they faced him. The right-hander went seven shutout innings and struck out eight as he improved to 9-4 lifetime against the Blue Jays.
In that series overall, the Red Sox took two of three from the Blue Jays. After last year's debacle in Boston though, Toronto has had the upper hand of late with 12 wins in the last 21 meetings.