Blue Jays-Red Sox Preview

The Associated Press

The Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays once again came up with strong offensive showings in their series opener at Fenway Park.

Another high-scoring game certainly seems possible Tuesday night, when the Blue Jays' Aaron Laffey is slated to make his first start in nearly two years against the shaky Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Two home runs from David Ortiz weren't enough for the Red Sox (38-35) in Monday's opener, as Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus and J.P. Arencibia each hit two-run blasts to lead Toronto to a 9-6 victory. The Blue Jays (38-35), winners of seven of 10, pulled into a tie with the Red Sox for fourth place in the AL East, 6 1/2 back of division-leading New York.

Toronto has plated six or more runs in seven of nine while Boston has scored at least six in seven of eight. The Red Sox are 9-3 since falling three games below .500 June 11.

Bautista, Rasmus and Edwin Encarnacion have all been locked in to lead the Blue Jays' charge. Bautista, the major league leader with 24 home runs, has five homers and 10 RBIs in his last seven games, Rasmus is hitting .410 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in his last nine and Encarnacion is batting .357 with four homers in his last seven.

"The top of our order has been swinging good of late,'' manager John Farrell said. "The way Jose, Edwin and Rasmus have been going. ... They're swinging the bats well for us.''

Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks are doing the same for the Red Sox.

Ortiz is batting .324 with six homers and 14 RBIs in his last 10 games, and has tied Ted Williams for the club record with 37 multihomer games. The seven-time All-Star has 398 career homers, which ties Dale Murphy for 51st all-time, and made it 11 straight seasons of at least 20 with his pair Monday.

"It's unbelievable,'' said Middlebrooks, who is hitting .550 with three homers, four doubles and 10 RBIs in his last seven games. "I thought the guy hits everything hard.''

Ortiz and Middlebrooks now look to rough up Laffey (0-0, 3.00 ERA), whose insertion in Toronto's newly arranged rotation is somewhat unexpected.

Laffey has appeared in four games out of the bullpen and hasn't pitched more than three innings. Prior to being called up from the minors June 12, the left-hander went 3-5 with a 4.81 ERA in 11 starts for Triple-A Las Vegas.

Laffey has made 49 starts in his 130 major league games, the last coming July 19, 2010, with Cleveland. He made his lone start against Boston on Oct. 3, 2009, when he was shelled for eight runs in two innings of an 11-6 loss with the Indians.

Matsuzaka (0-2, 6.06) has fared much better against Toronto, but continuing that success hardly seems like a sure thing considering he's labored through three starts since returning from Tommy John surgery.

Against Miami on Thursday, the right-hander gave up four runs and four hits over 5 1-3 innings in Boston's 6-5 win. Five of the seven runs he's allowed in his last two outings have come in the first inning.

Matsuzaka lost his first start against the Blue Jays in April 2007, but since then he is 7-0 with a 3.50 ERA with the Red Sox winning all 11 meetings. In his lone start against Toronto last season, he allowed a hit and a walk in seven scoreless innings of a 9-1 victory.

Bautista is 2 for 16 without a walk against Matsuzaka.