After splitting a four-game series with the AL East leaders, the Boston Red Sox are feeling a lot better about the division race.
Coming off another solid outing, Matsuzaka seeks his seventh straight win over the Blue Jays when he takes the ball for Boston in this series opener.
The Red Sox (64-49) arrived at Yankee Stadium on Friday six games back of East-leading New York, and they left the Bronx facing the same deficit. Boston won 2-1 in Monday’s series finale, as closer Jonathan Papelbon(notes) struck out Mark Teixeira(notes) to end the game with the potential tying run on second base.
The victory provided a huge momentum boost for the Red Sox, who would have been eight games back with a loss.
Boston could get closer to the division lead in this three-game set, facing a Toronto team against which it has gone 7-2 this year.
Matsuzaka (8-3, 3.96 ERA) has a 2.08 ERA in winning his two outings versus the Blue Jays this season, and he’s 6-0 with a 3.51 ERA in his last eight starts against them with the Red Sox winning each time.
He allowed one run for the third time in four starts Thursday, going eight innings in a 6-2 victory over Cleveland. He’s unbeaten in six outings since June 30.
The right-hander is 4-0 with a 2.01 ERA in his last seven road starts - a stretch that includes a 3-2 win in Toronto on July 11, when he gave up two runs in six innings.
Matsuzaka might not have to face Blue Jays slugger Vernon Wells(notes), who dislocated a toe while making a leaping catch against the wall Sunday. X-rays did not reveal any fractures for Wells, second on the team with 22 homers.
Morrow allowed his only hit with two outs in the ninth as Rays All-Star Evan Longoria(notes) hit a ball to the hole on the right side of the infield that deflected off the glove of diving second baseman Aaron Hill(notes).
“That would have been a great feat, but I’ll start at a complete-game, one-hit shutout with 17 strikeouts,” Morrow said.
Romero allowed one walk and two hits - a two-run homer and an infield single - in Tuesday’s 8-2 win over the Yankees. The left-hander retired the final 15 batters and 26 of the last 27.
“I didn’t let anything rattle me,” Romero told the Blue Jays’ official website. “I just went out there and kind of did my job.”
Romero is 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA in four starts since being tagged for nine runs - five earned - in a career-low 2 1-3 innings of a 14-3 loss to Boston on July 9. The Red Sox have regularly roughed up Romero, who is 1-4 with an 8.76 ERA in six starts against them - his most losses and highest ERA against any opponent.