The Red Sox will get back to work Friday night as they welcome the Toronto Blue Jays into Boston in the battle for the bottom of the A.L. East.
The Sox are coming off a terrible 1-8 West Coast trip, the Blue Jays have dropped 4-of-5. Neither one is going to be doing anything this season, the only question now is which one is in worse straits. While the Red Sox hold the better record, the fact is that the team as it is now is not the team that put up most of those wins. Minus Adrian Gonzalez, minus David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks, minus hope, they are a bunch that might not win against the Astros right now.
One way or another, we'll find out who's really on bottom after this series.
Boston Red Sox (63-75) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (61-75)
Friday, September 7, 7:10 p.m. EST
Felix Doubront (10-7, 5.03 ERA) vs. Henderson Avlarez (7-12, 5.04 ERA)
Felix Doubront's time off has clearly not done him any good, and beyond the first 50 pitches or so, he's an absolute wreck. Gone is any of the confidence that may have been garnered by his first half--now we have to wonder if he's even going to be a factor in the rotation come 2013.
The young Henderson Alvarez finds himself in much the same situation as Doubront. After a strong start to the season, Alvarez faltered in the middle months, and now in the last third has been absolutely horrible. These two pitchers might well serve to make even these struggling offenses look good.
Saturday, September 8, 7:10 p.m. EST
Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-4, 6.15 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (10-11, 4.73 ERA)
What could possibly have been more perfectly Daisuke then to follow up his tremendous outing against the Royals with a pathetic performance against the Athletics? If that were the end of the cycle--if on-off was Daisuke's modus operandi-- then Sox fans may have a better opinion of him then they do. Too often, however, it's on-off-off-off, etc. etc. etc.
J.A. Happ has a couple of bad, bad outings this season dragging him down, but beyond that, he's actually been impressively consistent. Not fantastic, no, and lasting late into games has been a struggle, but he's not one to have really implosive games. Up against the master of the implosion, and a weak offense, Happ might find this a pleasantly easy night.
Sunday, September 9, 1:35 p.m. EST
Clay Buchholz (11-5, 4.47 ERA) vs. Carlos Villanueva (7-5, 3.42 ERA)
Clay's shown some signs of the bad Clay Buchholz of late, but even while allowing four runs--three earned--in his last outing, Buchholz was more the good pitcher who dominated the middle months than the bad one who crashed during the early ones. Just a few ground balls getting through were enough to cost him some serious damage despite striking out plenty of Mariners in the process. He should still be expected to perform more than he should be expected to collapse.
Carlos Villanueva has been good all year, and while he's not had the best results of late, he still seems to be pitching fairly well. The issue for him might be keeping the ball in the park, given his fly ball tendencies and Fenway's unusual dimensions. If he can avoid that, though, he could well keep the Sox down for a long while.