Boston (73-54) at Toronto (66-61)

Sunny Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 86° F
  • Game info: 7:07 pm EDT Fri Aug 22, 2008
  • TV: NESN, RSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Toronto Blue Jays have given the Boston Red Sox problems all season, but in the middle of a close playoff race, Boston knows it can’t afford for those struggles to continue.

The Red Sox look to avoid a seventh straight loss in Toronto on Friday when the teams open a three-game series.

Boston (73-54) is 2-6 against the Blue Jays (66-61) this season and plays them 10 more times in 2008. It was swept in its only trip to Toronto this season, getting outscored 23-9 over a three-game series in April. The Red Sox’s average of 2.1 runs per game versus the Blue Jays is easily their lowest against any team they’ve faced this season.

Boston has lost 10 of 12 against Toronto going back to last year, failing to score more than four runs in any of those games. That stretch includes six consecutive defeats at Rogers Centre.

“The way they play against us, and that pitching, it should keep them in every game,” manager Terry Francona told the Red Sox’s official Web site. “I’m hoping we’re going to find out why (they’re in fourth place in the AL East). Every time we play them, it’s not been fun.”

Francona’s team doesn’t have much room in the standings to withstand another sweep. Boston is 4 1/2 games behind first-place Tampa Bay in the AL East and they are in a tight battle with Minnesota for the AL wild card lead.

The Red Sox come into the series having won six of nine, including two of three against Baltimore this week. They failed to complete the sweep Wednesday, losing 11-6.

Boston has won nine of its last 13 road games after going 2-10 in its previous 12. The pitching staff had a 4.88 ERA in those 12 games but has a 3.26 ERA in the last 13 away from Fenway. The starters are responsible for eight of those last nine road wins.

Paul Byrd (7-11, 4.55 ERA) hopes to record his first win with Boston when he takes the mound in Friday’s opener.

Byrd is making his second start with the Red Sox since his trade from Cleveland earlier this month, and his third in a row versus the Blue Jays. After throwing a six-hitter in Toronto to win 4-2 on Aug. 9, Byrd lost to them in Boston on Saturday, allowing four runs and 10 hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 4-1 loss.

“I thought it was what we expected,” Francona said. “He threw a lot of strikes, got deep into the game.”

The loss snapped Byrd’s four-game winning streak, during which he had a 1.24 ERA. He is 4-4 with a 3.12 ERA in eight starts against the Blue Jays.

Joe Inglett is 5-for-8 with a double and a triple against Byrd. Inglett had a career-high four hits on Thursday to help Toronto to a 14-3 win over the New York Yankees. Marco Scutaro also had four hits, including a three-run homer.

The Blue Jays took two of three games in that series have won seven of nine overall, averaging 6.0 runs.

Shaun Marcum (8-5, 3.36) takes the mound for Toronto on Friday.

Marcum has won his last three starts while posting a 2.00 ERA. He pitched five innings against Boston on Sunday, allowing one run and five hits in a 15-4 win.

Marcum is 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA in five starts and five relief appearances versus the Red Sox. As a starter, he is 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA against them.

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Starting Pitchers

P. Byrd Bos vs. S. Marcum Cle
11-12 Record 9-7
4.60 ERA 3.39
82 K 123
34 BB 50
1.32 WHIP 1.16

Scoreboard

Friday, Aug 22