Boston (70-52) at Toronto (52-72)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON, CA
Temp: 65° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Mon Aug 23, 2004
  • TV: NESN, RSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Boston Red Sox are the hottest team in baseball, and are closing the gap in the American League East. Just don’t tell them that.

Boston will head up to Toronto for a three-game set at the Skydome as the hottest team in the league, winning six straight games.

The Red Sox have won 12 of their last 15 games, moving them within 5 1/2 games of the struggling New York Yankees for the division lead. It’s the closest Boston has been to New York since June 28. However, the Red Sox aren’t looking at the standings just yet.

“That’s one thing you don’t want to do. When we start thinking about the Yankees, we start playing terrible for some reason,” David Ortiz said after the Red Sox swept three from the White Sox for the first time since Sept. 26-28, 2000.

“We’ll see at the end. We don’t have time to think about the Yankees or anything like that,” he added.

The Red Sox have a one-game lead in the AL wild card race over Texas and will send their ace Pedro Martinez to the mound against a Blue Jays squad that they have dominated this season.

Boston has won 13 of the 17 meetings with Toronto, including the last six. However, Toronto seems to have found itself since getting swept in Boston last week, winning three straight games.

Vernon Wells homered as Toronto swept the Baltimore Orioles with an 8-5 win on Sunday.

The Blue Jays had lost 13 of 15 games before coming to Baltimore, where they had 41 hits in dispatching the Orioles by a combined 32-13 score.

“We haven’t been swinging the bats like we were last year,” Wells said, “so hopefully this will be a starting block for us and we continue to roll from here.”

Wells knows it won’t be easy to score runs against Martinez.

“It’s a battle” Wells said of facing the Red Sox ace. “You take whatever you can get.”

Martinez has excelled against Toronto in his career, going 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 19 career starts. However, he was ineffective in his start against them on Tuesday, allowing four runs in seven innings.

“I didn’t have my best stuff so I had to battle,” Martinez said. “One flat day. That’s all you can say.”

Monday’s series opener will feature a rematch between Martinez and Ted Lilly, who was also ineffective on Tuesday. Lilly allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings.

“I’m frustrated,” said Lilly, who is 1-4 with a 3.63 ERA in his last nine starts. “I need to eliminate some of the deep counts and walks.”

Boston completed its sweep of Chicago on Sunday with a 6-5 win. Manny Ramirez and Ortiz homered on consecutive pitches to start the eighth inning.

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Starting Pitchers

P. Martinez PHI vs. T. Lilly LAD
16-9 Record 12-10
3.90 ERA 4.06
227 K 168
61 BB 89
1.17 WHIP 1.32