Coming off a rare home sweep of their biggest rival, the Red Sox go for their sixth straight win Monday in the opener of a two-game set against the visiting Blue Jays as they look to avoid a sixth consecutive loss.
Boston (12-5) won 7-6 over New York on Sunday to complete its first three-game sweep of the Yankees at Fenway Park since 1990. The win also increased the Red Sox’s lead over second-place Baltimore to 1 1/2 games in the AL East.
Toronto (8-10), meanwhile, lost 7-3 to the Orioles on Sunday for its fifth loss in a row—a skid that started with a 4-1 home loss to Boston on Wednesday.
“I’m not so sure it’s great to go where we’re heading,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
The 40-year-old Wakefield allowed one run and four hits in seven innings in that game while Ohka gave up four runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings in his only career start against Boston, the team he broke into the majors with in 1999.
Wakefield is 13-8 with a 3.85 ERA in 41 games, including 31 starts, against Toronto, which hopes to see a different hurler this time.
“(Wakefield) can’t be as good as he was last time we faced him - he was lights-out,” Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill told the Blue Jays’ official Web site.
The right-handed knuckleballer has allowed one earned run in each of his three starts this season, and four runs overall
“With his style, he can go under the radar,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “From my standpoint, he can go under the radar all the way to a bunch of wins.”
Wakefield wouldn’t mind another big offensive night from his teammates. On Sunday, Boston tied a major league record with four straight home runs in an inning when Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek connected in the third.
Lowell, who has hit safely in eight straight games, also added a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs.
“It speaks to we’re a good team,” Lowell said. “I don’t think it means anything for the next five months.”
Toronto, which was swept by Baltimore to start a seven-game road trip, were outscored 17-9 by the Orioles in that series.
“We’re just not doing what we’re capable of doing right now. It’s definitely not fun for us,” Hill said. “Maybe we’re pressing too hard because we know we’re a better team.”
A free-agent pickup in the offseason, Thomas is hitting just .215 so far, but has a .331 average with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs in 68 games at Fenway Park.
Though Toronto struggled at home against Boston last week, it has gone 5-4 each of the last two seasons at Fenway.
“Maybe it’ll be a shot of adrenaline for us,” Gibbons said. “Maybe that’s what we need going in there, all the energy that place provides. Maybe it’ll help us out.”