Manager John Farrell may sympathize with counterpart Bobby Valentine, but he’s surely more worried about Ricky Romero.
Romero looks to avoid matching the longest losing streak in Blue Jays history by capitalizing on Valentine’s collapsing Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.
Toronto (62-75) is tied with Boston (63-76) at the bottom of the AL East as both teams have been besieged by injuries. Valentine, meanwhile, continues to be at the center of the Red Sox’s struggles.
Criticism of the manager took a bizarre turn earlier this week when he threatened to punch a talk-show host for asking him if he “checked out.”
The incident added more fuel to speculation this will be his only season in Boston, which has lost nine of 10 following Friday’s 7-5 defeat to open this three-game set.
Speculation has Farrell as Valentine’s possible replacement since he was the Red Sox’s pitching coach from 2006-10, something that also occurred last offseason before Valentine was hired.
“I don’t look at other situations because my focus is here,” Farrell said. “We’ve got a lot of challenges ourselves with getting guys back on the field. So I can tell you this. Knowing what the Red Sox have gone through, the amount of players that they’ve lost to injury, I can empathize with Bobby.”
Farrell is certainly more worried about Romero (8-13, 5.85 ERA), who has already set the franchise record for the longest single-season losing streak while going 0-12 with a 7.98 ERA in 13 starts.
Another defeat will match the overall mark set by Tom Underwood bridging 1978 and ’79, while making him the first pitcher to endure such a slide during a single season since Jose Lima with Houston in 2000.
Romero’s stretch continued Sunday, getting pulled before he could record an out in the second after surrendering seven runs and eight hits in a 9-4 defeat to Tampa Bay.
“Going through something like this, I would never wish upon anyone,” Romero said. “It’s tough. I’ve had advice from a lot of people, even from opponents, the guy who pitched against me and their all-star third baseman, a lot of guys on other teams.
“(They say) ‘keep going, keep moving forward, you can’t dwell on the past. It’s going to turn around.’”
Romero has a 7.12 ERA while going 5-7 in 15 career starts against the Red Sox. That includes getting tagged for nine runs and seven hits with six walks in three innings of a 10-4 loss at Boston to start this losing streak June 27.
The Red Sox will try to get to Romero again and snap a four-game slide to Toronto, their longest since dropping seven in a row from 2007-08.
“We’re trying to come out and play winning baseball,” Dustin Pedroia said. “We haven’t played well the last few weeks, basically the last couple of months.”
Pedroia has been doing his part, hitting .371 while hitting safely in 29 of 31 games. The second baseman had a solo homer Friday, and he has a .345 average with one homer versus Romero.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-4, 6.15) is expected to get the ball looking to continue his dominance of the Blue Jays.
The right-hander is 7-0 with a 3.36 ERA in 12 starts against them, winning all four decisions at home over seven outings.
Matsuzaka, however, is coming off his worst performance of the season, getting pounded for six runs and seven hits - two homers - while walking four in 3 2-3 innings of a 6-2 loss at Oakland on Sunday.