After a 2-9 start, the Boston Red Sox are in desparate need of a real turn-around series. Not just a couple of wins broken up by another typical disaster like against the Yankees, but a real run of statement games where they outpitch, outhit, and outplay their opponents. With that in mind, and a couple of days off to accommodate them, the Red Sox have lined up their three best pitchers to start the series. And then either John Lackey or Daisuke Matsuzaka. You can't have everything, I guess.
The Blue Jays will respond with three lefties and Jesse Litsch. And while that may seem like about as good a matchup as you can hope for against the lefty-heavy Red Sox, past results have shown that there's not much reason to be afraid.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Boston Red Sox
Friday, April 15, 7:10 p.m.
Brett Cecil (0-1, 7.20 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (0-2, 7.20 ERA)
Their ERA's may be the same, but expect that to change after Friday's game. With current Red Sox holding a .382/.429/.724 batting line off of Cecil, this could be an explosive offensive game for Boston. Clay Buchholz, on the other hand, has held the Blue Jays to just a .611 OPS.
Saturday, April 16, 1:10 p.m.
Jo-Jo Reyes (0-1, 5.23 ERA) vs. Josh Beckett (1-1, 2.08 ERA)
Josh Beckett's dominant outing against the Yankees gave Red Sox fans more to cheer for than they've had all year. And while he'll have to face some batters who have given him trouble over his career to keep the momentum going, it's hard to imagine anyone hitting him if he pitches like he did last week. Jo-Jo Reyes, on the other hand, hasn't done much in his short MLB career. If there's one thing he has going for him, it's that he's the sort of soft-tossing lefty that can give the Red Sox trouble.
Sunday, April 17, 1:35 p.m.
Jesse Litsch (1-0, 2.38 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (0-1, 3.72 ERA)
After struggling last year in his return from Tommy John Surgery, Jesse Litsch has given every indication through two starts that 2011 will see him return to the promising form he showed in his first two seasons with the Blue Jays. With decent numbers in his career against the Red Sox, this would be a pretty solid matchup against pretty much any pitcher. Unfortunately for Toronto, though, Jon Lester not only dominates the Jays and their best hitters, but is also finally looking like he's ready to shake his traditional April curse. With two strong starts at his back, there's no reason why the Red Sox ace can't make this his third.
Monday, April 18, 11:05 a.m.
Ricky Romero (1-1, 1.66 ERA) vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2, 12.86 ERA)
Talk about a mismatch! While there have been some rumblings that John Lackey may well get the start Monday instead of Daisuke, both have been disasters so far, especially when compared to Ricky Romero.
Don't go making other plans for Patriots' Day just yet, though. Because the Red Sox hit Romero like nobody's business. Kevin Youkilis, J.D. Drew, Dustin Pedroia, and David Ortiz especially punish the Blue Jays ace, with Drew's 1.160 OPS against Romero being the lowest of the four. This stands in stark contrast to what Daisuke can do to Toronto's hitters; at .153/205/.297 against Daisuke, Toronto's lineup may as well be comprised solely of pitchers. What looks like the worst matchup of the series for the Red Sox could actually end up being the best.