Toronto head to Boston after taking a series-clinching 5-3 win on Sunday in Philadelphia. Ex-Phillies pitcher JA Happ was in fine form as he went 6.2 innings allowing just two runs and striking out eight before handing over the lead over to the bullpen who took it home. Devon Travis doubled home the first two runs of the day in the second inning, and Dwight Smith Jr followed his example with another two-run double in the sixth before Curtis Granderson hit a solo homer in the ninth to put the icing on the cake.
Boston were shocked in a 7-1 loss as the Braves avoided the sweep on Sunday. Chris Sale was tapped up for a three-run homer in the second and then allowed three more in the fifth before getting the hook in what was his worst start of the season. Mookie Betts was withdrawn from the game before it started with a side injury, while JD Martinez got the day off too. That left the Sox with a lot of dead weight in the lineup.
Aaron Sanchez (RHP) Vs. David Price (LHP)
Sanchez has had a shaky start to the 2018 season. He hasn’t had a complete blowout performance, but he’s failed to get beyond the fifth inning twice and has allowed three-plus runs in five starts too. His 4.07 ERA is actually a success given his remarkably awful 5.5 BB/9, but by keeping the ball in the park he has limited the damage his lack of control has wrought.
Price comes into today with a 4.08 ERA in his 10 starts, and similarly to Sanchez he has had some issues with free passes to first base, though not on the same scale as the Blue Jays man. Price’s 3.5 BB/9 is the highest it has been since 2009, when he was a 23-year-old rookie. His last game was a strong start against the Rays on the road. Price went six innings allowing just one run and striking out nine.
|Blue Jays Lineup||Home Runs||Batting Average||On-Base Percentage|
|Red Sox Lineup||Home Runs||Batting Average||On-Base Percentage|
|Bradley Jr, CF||2||.181||.270|
Who’s hot, and who’s not
The Blue Jays come into today without any truly hot bats right now. Their best hitter in recent weeks has been shortstop Yangervis Solarte, who is hitting .306 with two homers and nine RBI in the last 15 days. Joining him with two homers in that span is first baseman Justin Smoak, but he is hitting a more sedate .250. Meanwhile, Teoscar Hernandez, Curtis Granderson, and Kevin Pillar are all hitting .200 or below.
The Red Sox are likely going to keep Mookie Betts on the bench while they evaluate his side injury. That leaves them without the AL MVP frontrunner, but they do have a couple of other hot hitters around. Andrew Benintendi has shrugged off a slow start to come out firing in recent weeks. He is hitting .370 with four homers in the last 15 days, and while JD Martinez’s bat has cooled a little he still has three homers in the last six games he played. Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers have struggled with average in recent weeks, both hitting below .200, while Dustin Pedroia has just returned to the lineup he is without a hit in seven at-bats.
Both pitchers can be volatile propositions. Price has had two blowups this year, but has also scattered in four electric starts (albeit three of those were against Tampa Bay). Sanchez could well struggle to keep this patient and deep lineup under control, but I suspect this game may well come down to which bullpen can cope with the final innings best. Boston are #6 in OBP, and that may well be the difference with Sanchez’s inability to keep hitters off first base.
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