The Boston Red Sox right-hander again looks for his first win over the Blue Jays while trying for a third straight victory overall when the teams continue their weekend set Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Lester (12-4, 3.17 ERA) allowed a run and four hits in seven innings of a 6-3 victory at Baltimore on Monday to kick off Boston’s current nine-game road trip. The left-hander improved to 9-1 with a 2.89 ERA in his last 14 starts and has pitched into the seventh inning in his last eight outings.
“I don’t think my mind-set has changed any since April,” said Lester, who started 1-2 this season. “More consistent. If you can show guys you’re ahead in the zone, they’re going to swing at pitches early in the count that aren’t necessarily good pitches to hit.”
Lester makes his third start against Toronto (66-62) after allowing a run and four hits in 14 2-3 innings during two previous outings in which he didn’t factor in either decision. He yielded a hit in eight innings of a 1-0 win over the Blue Jays on April 29.
Boston (74-54), which is on top of the AL wild-card standings, looks for a second straight victory after beating Toronto 8-4 in Friday’s opener to improve to 3-1 on a trip that started in Baltimore and concludes against the Yankees.
“We scored early and we stayed at it,” manager Terry Francona said. “We’ve had nights like this where we’ve come in here and I’m explaining why we lost or how we lost. We found a way to turn it around and have a good win.”
Pedroia is batting .405 (17-for-42) with three homers and eight RBIs during his nine-game hitting streak and is 3-for-8 lifetime against Toronto’s Saturday starter Jesse Litsch.
Litsch (8-7, 4.20) looks to avoid a fourth straight losing decision when he takes the mound. Though he didn’t factor in the decision of his last outing due to a bullpen collapse, Litsch allowed four hits in seven scoreless innings of a 5-1 loss at Detroit on Aug. 14 in his first start since being recalled from the minors.
“I was able to hit the zone with all my pitches, but the sinker was most effective for me,” said Litsch, who is 1-6 with a 5.37 ERA over his last 10 starts. “I was able to stick with my game plan.”
The right-hander is 3-1 with a 4.57 ERA in four career starts versus Boston and allowed two runs in five innings of a 10-2 win over the Red Sox at home on April 5.
Alex Rios and Lyle Overbay each hit two-run homers Friday for the Blue Jays, who had their three-game winning streak against the Red Sox come to an end and missed a chance to pull within six games of Boston.
Rios is hitting .383 (18-for-47) with 11 RBIs over his last 11 games and .400 (14-for-35) with three homers and nine RBIs against Boston this season.