Boston (89-63) at Toronto (82-71)

Cloudy Currently: Toronto, ON
Temp: 43° F
  • Game info: 7:07 pm EDT Fri Sep 19, 2008
  • TV: NESN, RSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Paul Byrd has won six straight road starts, thanks partly to strong run support. The Boston Red Sox’s lineup may be set for a much-needed boost in Byrd’s next opportunity on the road.

The Red Sox hope to have Mike Lowell and Jason Bay back in their lineup as Byrd matches up with A.J. Burnett of the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night.

Byrd (11-12, 4.53 ERA) has posted a 2.25 ERA during his run on the road, but has also gotten an average of 6.7 runs to work with.

But Byrd pitched at home in his last outing and had a personal four-game winning streak snapped by Toronto (82-71) on Saturday night, giving up five runs and 10 hits in five innings as Boston (89-63) lost 8-1.

The veteran right-hander is 2-2 with a 4.94 ERA in four starts versus the Blue Jays this season, and 5-5 with a 3.80 ERA in 10 career starts against them.

He’ll now try to continue his streak away from Fenway Park, but the Red Sox’s lineup is in need of some help. Boston, which is 1 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay in the AL East, scored a combined four runs en route to losing the final two games of a three-game set with the Rays earlier in the week.

Boston went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position in a 10-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Wednesday night.

The Red Sox played without Lowell and Bay in that game, but they’re hoping both will be back for this series’ opener. Lowell sat out due to a sore right hip, while Bay traveled to Boston for the birth of his daughter, Evelyn Jane.

The duo’s return would boost a lineup that has 10 games left to try to catch the Rays for their second straight AL East title. Boston, with a commanding lead in the wild card race, will likely be in the postseason either way.

“We’ve got to try to win as many as we can out of these last 10,” Red Sox slugger David Ortiz told the team’s official Web site. “Then we think about what’s going to happen.”

Boston, however, has the daunting task of trying to solve Burnett (18-10, 4.19 ERA). Burnett is 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in two starts versus the Red Sox this season, and 5-0 with a 2.37 ERA all-time against them.

The right-hander matched up with Byrd on Saturday, giving up one unearned run and three hits in six innings. Burnett has won two straight starts, allowing two unearned runs in 13 innings.

But Boston’s Sean Casey has had some success against Burnett, batting .538 (14-for-26) against him. The return of Lowell and Bay would certainly help, and Ortiz has been heating up.

Ortiz has driven in 11 runs in his last seven contests, and hit two home runs Wednesday. Though Ortiz missed seven weeks with a left wrist injury, he has 21 homers and 84 RBIs.

Toronto’s lineup, meanwhile, has struggled over the past week, scoring three runs or less in three of its last four games. Though nobody managed more than one hit, the Blue Jays were able to pull out a 3-2 win over Baltimore on Thursday night.

Toronto has won two straight after losing its previous three. The Blue Jays have lost five of their last seven games against Boston, but still lead the season series 8-7.

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Starting Pitchers

P. Byrd Bos vs. A. Burnett Phi
11-12 Record 18-10
4.60 ERA 4.07
82 K 231
34 BB 86
1.32 WHIP 1.34

Scoreboard

Friday, Sep 19