Legends On Deck

Game of the Week Preview: Red Sox at Blue Jays


There will be plenty of noise at Rogers Centre Friday night as the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox (78-61) meet the host Toronto Blue Jays (77-62) in a late season pennant race tilt.

Birds of a feather flock together. On Thursday the Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles (76-63) found themselves one and two games, respectively, behind the BoSox in the hotly contested division.

There will be scoreboard watching too, because the New York Yankees (74-65) have climbed back in the race as well after a three game-sweep of the Blue Jays this week. Four games separated the top four East Division teams after the Yankees opened a four-game set against the last place Tampa Bay Rays Thursday with a 5-4 walk-off victory. Meanwhile this weekend the O’s battle the Detroit Tigers (75-64), another contender for a wild card spot.

But wait, there is more – Friday night is Rick Porcello‘s (19-3 3.23 ERA 1.02 WHIP) turn to pitch, and the right-handed Red Sox veteran will make the first of several attempts at a 20-win season, a rarity in the era of pitch counts and power-armed bull-pens. It will be another chance for a full house to adore David Ortiz, and maybe see the charismatic Red Sox DH unleash one of his famous game-winning swings. Dustin Pedroia (.326) and Xander Bogaerts (.300) will dazzle in the middle infield and set the table for Mookie Betts (.316 30 HR 100 RBI), Hanley Ramirez (.283 20 HR 90 RBI), and Big Papi (.318 31 HR 107 RBI) in the middle of the potent Sox lineup. Twenty-one year old Yoan Moncada may appear, though the prized Cuban prospect has had a rocky start to his first full week (10 K’s) with the big league club.

The Blue Jays figure to start right-hander Marco Estrada (8-7 3.56 ERA) who sports a solid WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) of 1.10. The Jays will send plenty of firepower to the plate in an attempt to thwart Porcello’s bid for 20-win honors. All-Star Josh Donaldson, though a bit cool at the plate this week, boasts a .290/.406/.567 (BA/OBP/SLG) slash line; DH Edwin Encarnacion (37 HR 112 RBI) is power off the pine; and outfielder Michael Saunders is having a breakout season (.268 23 HR 54 RBI) despite batting near the bottom of the order.  Veteran catcher (and frequent Estrada battery-mate) Dioner Navarro may spell regular Russell Martin, who has been having a fine second half (10 home runs since the break) but is battling some knee soreness.

Personal milestones and a dogfight for first place. This one counts.

Game time: 7:07 P.M. ET

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