Blue Jays riding high ahead of series with Red Sox

MLB

The Toronto Blue Jays will have momentum going into the opener of an important three-game series with the visiting Boston Red Sox on Monday night at Buffalo.

The Blue Jays returned from the All-Star break with a three-game home sweep of the Texas Rangers, capped by shutouts in both ends of a doubleheader, 5-0 and 10-0, on Sunday.

It is the first time in franchise history that they have shut out the opposition in both games of a twin bill. Only in the past two seasons, however, have doubleheader games been limited to seven innings.

Toronto outscored Texas 25-2 in the series sweep, which came at the same time as the team learned it would resume playing its home games at the Rogers Centre on July 30 for the first time since 2019 because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The series against Boston will end their stay at Buffalo. The Blue Jays also played 21 home games in Dunedin, Fla., their spring training home, to open the season.

Blue Jays center fielder George Springer, who homered in the second game on Sunday, said the hot start is “huge.”

“The goal is obviously to start well after the All-Star break. This is a big stretch for us here. On top of it, we find out that we get to go home. It’s exciting. I know there’s a certain buzz around the clubhouse right now,” Springer said.

The Blue Jays and Red Sox will meet 10 times between Monday and Aug. 8, including a four-game series July 26-29 at Boston.

The Red Sox have a 5-4 advantage against the Blue Jays this season, but they enter Monday on a downer after dropping two in a row to the New York Yankees, the latest a 9-1 loss Sunday night.

The Red Sox are 2-6 in their past eight games. They were a season-best 22 games over .500 on July 5. They have a 5.73 ERA since and have batted .228 while averaging 3.75 runs per game.

“We haven’t hit,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “We’re chasing pitches. We’re in one of those stretches. … We love to swing the bats, but we’ve been chasing pitches out of the zone for a while.”

The Red Sox lead the American League East by a half game over the Tampa Bay Rays and six games over the third-place Blue Jays. Toronto is 2 1/2 games removed from a wild-card spot after winning four straight.

“We’re going into that series playing good baseball,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “That helps. Again, Boston is having an outstanding season, but this is our chance to gain some ground. You can only do it one game at a time.”

Boston will start right-hander Nick Pivetta (7-4, 4.30 ERA) on Monday. Toronto will start right-hander Ross Stripling (3-5, 4.34).

Pivetta is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in two starts against Toronto this season. In four career starts against Toronto, he is 0-2 with a 7.06 ERA.

Stripling has faced Boston twice this year, going 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA. In five career games against Boston, he is 2-2 with a 5.32 ERA.

The Red Sox could have utility player Danny Santana (quadriceps) back from the injured list on Monday. He has not played since July 6.

Boston’s Christian Arroyo (hamstring) was injured while stretching to catch a throw Sunday while playing first base for the first time as a professional.

“Most likely an IL thing,” Cora said.

–Field Level Media

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