Red Sox At Blue Jays: John Lackey Struggles As Toronto Completes Sweep Of Boston, 9-3

The Red Sox will start their short road trip in Toronto, taking on the slumping Blue Jays in a two-game set. Read more at Over The Monster and Bluebird Banter.

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Red Sox Vs. Blue Jays: John Lackey Terrible, Blue Jays Sweep Red Sox 9-3

The Blue Jays completed their two-game sweep of the Red Sox Wednesday, taking advantage of a terrible outing from John Lackey.

Simply put, John Lackey did nothing right against the Jays. There were no bright spots, no indication that things are getting better. He was not unlucky, nor was it just a good night for the Jays. When he threw strikes, they were the kind that begged to be hit. But about as often as not, he wasn’t throwing strikes—especially not when he needed to. It’s one thing to walk five batters, another entirely to have one of them come with the bases loaded.

The Red Sox offense, on the other hand, did have bright spots. While Jacoby Ellsbury’s hitting streak was snapped and Dustin Pedroia’s slump continues, Adrian Gonzalez went deep yet again, and almost managed a second one, bouncing a double off the wall in straight-away center. Also solid was Carl Crawford, who unlike Ellsbury managed to extend his streak to 11 games.

But at this point the focus is solely on John Lackey. After a solid second half of 2010, Lackey entered spring training 20 pounds lighter and, amidst the wash of good feelings in spring training, actually encouraged some optimism amongst the fanbase. But seven starts into the season and his ERA has ballooned over 8.00. The question is: how much longer can the Red Sox, sitting now at 17-20, live with Lackey in their rotation?

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Red Sox Vs. Blue Jays Lineups: Jose Iglesias Makes First Major League Start

Jose Iglesias will receive his first start for the Boston Red Sox Wednesday, batting ninth against Toronto’s Jesse Litsch.

While the Red Sox weren’t expecting Iglesais to see much playing time in his short major league stint, a bout of illness from Jed Lowrie will force him into the starting lineup tonight. In his first major league at bat Tuesday, Iglesias swung at all four pitches he saw, striking out on a breaking ball that ended in the dirt, but reaching as Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia couldn’t catch the ball.

Here’s the rest of tonight’s lineup:

BOSTON RED SOX

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. David Ortiz, DH
6. J.D. Drew, RF
7. Carl Crawford, LF
8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
9. Jose Iglesias, SS
John Lackey, SP

Without Jed Lowrie there to break things up, the Sox have quite the string of lefties in the middle of there order.

The Jays counter with:

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

1. Yunel Escobar, SS
2. Corey Patterson, CF
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Juan Rivera, DH
5. Aaron Hill, 2B
6. J.P. Arencibia, C
7. David Cooper, 1B
8. John McDonald, 3B
9. Rajai Davis, CF
— Jesse Litsch, SP

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Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 7: Lester Struggles, Blue Jays Walk Off

One night after walking off against the Minnesota Twins, the Red Sox found themselves on the other side of the fence, falling 6-7 to the Blue Jays in the tenth inning.

For the Red Sox, this was a debacle of a game, with only the occasional offensive burst to keep things close. From the very first inning, things were going wrong in unusual fashion. With two men on and nobody out in the first, Jacoby Ellsbury was picked off of second base, and the Sox went down without scoring. Then, in the bottom of the inning, the typically accurate Jon Lester loaded the bases on a single and two walks, then walked in a run. He would have escaped the inning with just two runs, too, had it not been for a dropped pop fly courtesy of Adrian Gonzalez. 

Facing a 3-0 lead after one, the Red Sox got to work in the second. David Ortiz hit a leadoff double and was moved to third on a J.D. Drew single. Carl Crawford got the Sox on the board with an RBI single before Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury went down to end the threat.

After Jon Lester escaped a bases loaded situation in the third, David Ortiz brought the Sox within one run of the Jays with his fifth homer of the year. The Sox had a chance to tie things up, but a terrible attempt to score Carl Crawford on a sharply hit line drive single from Jacoby Ellsbury ended the threat. When Dustin Pedroia walked to start the next inning and was brought home on a 2-run shot, the Sox did take the lead, but left fans wondering just how many they could have scored in the fourth.

The lead did not last long, however, as Lester's struggles continued in the fourth when Jose Bautista led off the frame with a solo shot to left. The next inning started in similar fashion, with J.P. Arencibia doing the dirty work. Lester was pulled from the game after walking John McDonald and hitting Yunel Escobar with a pitch, his final line featuring an uncharacteristic five earned runs in just over five innings.

The roller coaster ride continued in the eighth thanks to Jed Lowrie, who doubled, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, whose line drive to left field brought pinch runner Jose Iglesias home. Things quickly swung back in Toronto's favor, however, when David Cooper took a Daniel Bard fastball over the wall in right-center. Not one to break from the tradition of leadoff homers the game had established, however, Adrian Gonzalez responded by taking the second pitch of the ninth inning to the opposite field for his second bomb of the game.

Ultimately, though, all the small mistakes that had cost the Sox a run here and a run there came back to haunt them. Adrian Gonzalez' next big swing came in the tenth inning with two outs, and wasn't quite enough to get the job done. Pitching his second inning, Matt Albers allowed a one-out ground ball single to Rajai Davis, who was immediately off and running, stealing second despite a pitchout, and then third on the ineffective arm of Jason Varitek. With David Cooper at the plate, Albers needed to dodge any sort of contact, but could not avoid the sacrifice fly that sent Davis home and gave the Jays the win.

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Red Sox At Blue Jays: Red Sox Start Short Road Trip Off In Toronto

At 6-5, the latest Boston homestand was not all it could have been. Hampered by bullpen and rotation destroying rain delays, to say nothing of the continued disappointment that is John Lackey, the Sox were unable to take full advantage of what could have been an opportunity to close the gap with the top of the division. 

What they do have, though, is a team full of guys who are suddenly performing up to expectations (again, John Lackey excluded). Now they just need to keep the show going on the road. Their first stop in this quick five game trip: Toronto, where they will play a pair against the Blue Jays

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Boston Red Sox At Toronto Blue Jays

Tuesday, May 10, 7:07 p.m.
NESN
Jon Lester (4-1, 2.33 ERA) vs. Kyle Drabek (2-2, 4.50 ERA)

Having dodged his usual April troubles, Jon Lester enters his second start of May in what is shaping up to be the best season of his career, hot off an 11 strikeout performance against the Angels on six days of rest. 

In many ways, the Blue Jays are the perfect team for Lester to face. Never one to just pound the zone, Lester thrives on making batters swing at pitches that seem hittable right until they reach the plate. The Jays are certainly the type to oblige, swinging readily at pitches regardless of location. While tonight might not be the biggest strikeout night of Lester's career--the Jays do make some regular contact--given his high ground ball numbers and the Jays' reliance on the homer, Lester could find himself going quite a long ways tonight on relatively few pitches.

The same cannot be said for Kyle Drabek, the young man who found himself the centerpiece in the trade for Roy Halladay. While there is every expectation for Drabek to develop into a solid member of the Jays' rotation, he's undergoing some serious control issues right now, and is throwing a lower percentage of his pitches for strikes than any other starter in the majors. With patient hitters like Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz at the plate tonight, Drabek is going to need to do better if he wants to stick around for long.

Wednesday, May 11, 7:07 p.m.
NESN
John Lackey (2-4, 7.16 ERA) vs. Jesse Litsch (3-2, 4.04 ERA)

If the Red Sox want to win this game, they're probably going to have to hit Jesse Litsch hard. How bad was John Lackey last year against Toronto? 22 earned runs in 23 innings bad. With high fly ball numbers, Lackey plays directly into the tendencies of the Jays' hitters. and while he does throw outside the zone about as often as Lester, he completely lacks the ace's deception.

The good news is that the last time they saw Jesse Litsch, the Red Sox did manage to score some runs off of him--six in six innings to be exact. With Litsch having feasted on some of the weaker lineups in the league, and with the Red Sox seeing some big production from their lefties of late, Boston might be able to keep pace with the Jays even given Litsch's early success.

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