Red Sox-Blue Jays Preview

The Associated Press

Clay Buchholz is coming off his strongest start of the season. He's usually been at his best against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Buchholz looks to continue his recent dominance of the Blue Jays when the Boston Red Sox open a weekend series Friday night at Rogers Centre.

Buchholz (4-2, 7.19 ERA) allowed two runs and struck out a season-high six in seven innings Sunday, but closer Alfredo Aceves blew a one-run lead when he allowed a two-run homer in the ninth inning of a 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay.

Despite the outcome, Buchholz took positives away from only his second quality start in 10 outings this season.

"The big thing was, I stayed out of the middle of the plate, for the most part," Buchholz told the Red Sox's official website. "I felt this good my past three starts, I just hadn't had the results."

The results have usually been positive when he faces the Blue Jays (27-24), especially in Toronto. Buchholz is 7-3 with a 2.49 ERA in 11 career starts versus Toronto, including 4-0 with a 1.32 ERA in his last five.

He's won five straight starts at Rogers Centre, allowing one run in each of those contests.

Things could be tougher Friday, as Buchholz faces a Blue Jays club that followed a season-high five-game skid with a three-game home sweep of Baltimore this week.

"Not surprising in my mind," manager John Farrell told the Blue Jays' official website. "This is a team that has been very resilient. They have been able to separate from what they did the day before, the series before."

Toronto held the Red Sox (26-25) to eight runs while taking two of three meetings at Rogers Centre in April. Buchholz did not appear in that series.

Boston failed to complete a four-game home sweep of Detroit with a 7-3 loss Thursday, but has won 14 of 20 and is three games out of first place in the AL East despite sitting last in the division.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered in the series finale with the Tigers, and is 11 for 33 with five home runs and nine RBIs in his last 10 games.

It's unlikely Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia will see action Friday, as the former AL MVP remains day to day after missing the last three games with a thumb injury. For the moment, the Red Sox feel content to play short-handed and not place Pedroia on the disabled list.

"The swelling is down more and he's a little louder (about playing), but he's better," manager Bobby Valentine said. "There's an absolute situation that's in place, and then we might start considering options, but we're day to day."

The Red Sox have yet to figure out scheduled Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez (3-4, 3.56), who has allowed one run - on a Pedroia homer - and eight hits over 12 innings in two starts against them but has not gotten a decision. The right-hander gave up that homer in six innings of the Blue Jays' 4-2 loss to Boston on April 9.

Alvarez is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA in his last three starts overall, after posting an 0.82 ERA while winning his previous three outings. He gave up five runs and a season-high three homers in 5 2-3 innings Saturday before being ejected for throwing inside to Ian Kinsler in Toronto's 13-inning, 8-7 loss at Texas.

Colby Rasmus, who homered in Toronto's 4-1 win over Baltimore on Wednesday, is batting .333 with three home runs and seven RBIs in his last 10 games after going 0 for 17 in his previous six.

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