American League Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, June 3rd (All times Eastern)
Boston Red Sox (28-25) at Toronto Blue Jays (27-26), 1:07 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Boston - Daniel Bard (5-5, 4.56) Toronto - Drew Hutchison (4-2, 4.84)
(Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox will be looking to get the brooms out as they square off with the Toronto Blue Jays in the final stage of their three- game set at the Rogers Centre.
Boston's 7-4 victory on Saturday helped it keep pace in the American League East standings. The Red Sox head into the series finale in fourth place in the division, but only two games back of the Rays and Orioles, who will break their first-place tie in their own series finale on Sunday.
The visitors were led on Saturday by Nick Punto, who finished with three hits, including an insurance-providing solo blast in the ninth, and knocked in two runs. Daniel Nava also drove in a pair while Ryan Sweeney and Will Middlebrooks each added an RBI and a run scored for Boston, which has won five of its last six contests.
The red-hot Red Sox have rebounded from their slow start to the season by winning 16 of their last 22 outings. Even without former MVP Dustin Pedroia in the lineup, Boston's offense showed it has the capability to be suddenly dangerous by scoring four runs with two outs in the second inning.
"They just play it one pitch at a time, one inning at a time." Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "It doesn't mean we can't score because the third and fourth hitters aren't coming up. It doesn't mean we can't score because Dustin's not in there. Every inning, I think, we have a chance to score."
Boston's starter Felix Doubront (6-2) gave up two earned runs on seven hits and struck out seven batters in 6 1/3 innings to earn the decision and Alfredo Aceves achieved his 14th save of the season with a perfect ninth inning.
Daniel Bard will have the ball in his hand for the Red Sox today as they attempt to continue to climb in the standings. Bard lasted 5 1/3 innings in each of his last two starts. The right-hander surrendered five hits, two earned runs, and most importantly, picked up a win each time. Bard gave up five runs in five innings to Toronto the first time he faced the Blue Jays, which was also his first career start.
"[I'm] just staying in my delivery better," Bard said about the adjustments he has made. "I made a couple of tweaks, nothing major, but just a couple of things to keep everything on time, to keep my arm in the same slot. I made those tweaks in my side session three days ago and felt really good about it coming out of that."
Toronto will counter with rookie Drew Hutchison, who is coming off of the most promising performance of his young career. Hutchison shut out Baltimore for seven innings and only allowed three hits while striking out nine on Monday.
"I just kind of let it go," Hutchison said after his last outing. "I'm not going to say I didn't worry about throwing strikes, but I just let it go."
Hutchison's fastball was recorded as high as 95 mph in the contest, which is up from his low 90s average.
The Blue Jays collectively left 12 on base and reached base on balls only once in Saturday's loss. Jeff Mathias hit one out of the yard in the third inning and Jose Bautista hit his 13th home run of the year in the game.
Toronto's offense is tied for second in the MLB with 76 home runs, but is 23rd in on base percentage. The Blue Jays have gone 3-7 over their last 10 games, which caused them to fall into last place in the AL East. The home team is still well within striking distance however, as they are still just three games behind the division's leaders.
Boston, which has won 16 of its last 22 games, is second in the major league with 282 runs scored.
06/03 10:37:50 ET