After a forgettable homestand put them in an early hole in the AL East, the Boston Red Sox may be happy to head back on the road.
They’ll have Josh Beckett(notes) on the mound to begin a six-game trip Monday night with the first of three in Toronto, where Boston’s Marco Scutaro(notes) will face his former Blue Jays teammates for the first time since signing with the Red Sox in December.
Boston (8-11) began a string of 10 games at Fenway Park with four straight losses to Tampa Bay and finished the 4-6 homestand on a sour note with Sunday’s 7-6, 10-inning loss to lowly Baltimore.
Scutaro made the final out and finished 0 for 5. The shortstop, who spent the last two seasons with the Blue Jays and had a career year in 2009, is off to a mediocre start with his new club, batting .254.
Some late heroics were the only reason Boston’s homestand wasn’t even worse. All four of the team’s wins came by one run; the Red Sox beat Texas twice in their last at-bat, then stranded the potential tying run in scoring position in the ninth inning of two wins over the Orioles.
The Red Sox’s sluggish start, marked by problems at the plate and in the field, already has them six games behind the division-leading Rays and 4 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees.
Their bullpen, which gave up 11 runs in 8 2-3 innings against Baltimore, cost them Sunday’s game. Boston blew a late lead and allowed three runs in the top of the 10th before a final rally fell short.
“We dug ourselves too deep of a hole,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Beckett (1-0, 5.26 ERA) hopes he can bounce back from a poor outing and give the Red Sox’s relievers a rest. The right-hander allowed seven runs and walked five in seven innings of Boston’s 8-7, 12-inning win over Texas on Wednesday.
The ace has gone 3-5 with a 6.62 ERA in 12 career starts against the Blue Jays. Vernon Wells(notes) has five home runs in 33 career at-bats against Beckett, while Aaron Hill(notes) (12 for 30) and Adam Lind(notes) (5 for 11) are both hitting at least .400 against him.
The Blue Jays (10-9), who’ve cooled off following their 5-1 start, could use an offensive resurgence. They managed four hits in a 6-0 loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday, their second straight defeat and sixth in nine games.
One bright spot was the defensive play of catcher Jose Molina(notes), who threw out all four Rays baserunners who attempted to steal. No catcher had thrown out four runners in a game since Florida’s Charles Johnson on Sept. 18, 2002.
“I don’t look at that personal stuff,” Molina said. “The only thing I care about is the result of the game and it didn’t go our way.”
The Red Sox have allowed opponents to swipe 37 bases - easily a major league high - while throwing out only one.
Toronto left-hander Dana Eveland(notes) (2-0, 1.93) may present a challenge if he continues his strong April, but Eveland is coming off his shortest outing of 2010, allowing three runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings of the Blue Jays’ 4-3 win over Kansas City on Tuesday.
The Red Sox took five of nine in Toronto and 11 of 18 overall from the Blue Jays last year.