The Blue Jays seek to clinch a series win over the Red Sox as the AL East rivals continue their three-game set Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Boston (3-2) has reached three of the last four postseasons and won two World Series titles in that span, while Toronto (2-2) has not finished closer than 10 games from the top of the AL East in that stretch. However, the Blue Jays have looked like the dominant club in recent seasons when the division rivals have met.
Since the start of the 2005 season, Toronto is 33-23 against Boston - the most wins over the Red Sox by any opponent in that span. That trend continued in Friday night’s home opener, won 6-3 by the Jays. Frank Thomas doubled home the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and Matt Stairs added a solo home run for Toronto.
Starter Shawn Marcum limited the Red Sox to three hits while striking out eight over seven innings before a sellout crowd to help the Blue Jays improve to 24-8 in home openers.
“I kind of had the extra adrenaline going,” Marcum said. “Fifty-thousand plus here, the white towels, the blue uniforms, everything. It was a fun night.”
The game was not without a bit of controversy. Toronto’s Aaron Hill was credited with an RBI single on a ball Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury initially appeared to catch, but then dropped at the center field wall. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said backlit scoreboards built into the outfield fence at Rogers Centre prevented both him and the umpires from getting a clean look at the play.
“You cannot see that,” Francona said. “Umpires can’t see it, I can’t see it (from the dugout), nobody can see it. I don’t even know how to argue.”
It was the fourth straight home victory over the Red Sox for Toronto, which swept Boston last Sept. 17-19.
Saturday’s game will feature a rematch of the starting pitchers from the Sept. 19 meeting. Toronto’s Jesse Litsch (7-9, 3.81 ERA in 2007) earned the win in that contest, allowing one run over 6 2-3 innings to hand Boston rookie Clay Buchholz (3-1, 1.59) his only major league loss.
However, expectations run high in Boston for Buchholz, who gave up a total of just four earned runs in 22 2-3 innings over four starts last season and pitched a no-hitter Sept. 1 against Baltimore in just his second major league outing.
In his loss to Toronto, the 23-year-old right-hander yielded two runs - one earned - five hits and two walks in 4 2-3 innings.
Litsch may not have arrived in Toronto with as much fanfare as Buchholz in Boston, but he did improve as his 2007 rookie season progressed. The 23-year-old right-hander yielded two earned runs or fewer in seven of his final 10 starts.
He also faced the Red Sox a total of three times, going 2-1 with a 4.86 ERA in those outings.