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
Boston Red Sox At Toronto Blue Jays
Tuesday, May 10, 7:07 p.m.
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.
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.