Losers of six straight games for the first time since they lost eight to end their disastrous 2012 campaign, it would appear things can’t get much worse for the Red Sox right now, who are five games under .500 for the first time this season.
The only Red Sox starter who has had much success over the past week is Jon Lester, having held the Detroit Tigers to only one run in last Friday’s 1-0 loss at Fenway Park. The Red Sox have relied upon Lester many times since he became the ace of this staff, and it appears they will need to do it again to get back into the wins column, as the lefthander will take the mound Thursday against the Blue Jays.
Lester is 4-5 on the season, posting a 2.67 ERA in nine starts. As mentioned earlier, he allowed just one run in his last start over five rain-soaked innings on four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.
Lester is very familier with the Blue Jays lineup, having spent his entire career with the Red Sox in the AL East. Coming into Thursday, he is 15-8 with a 3.61 ERA in 29 career games against Toronto. He face Toronto on April 27 at the Rogers Centre, allowing four runs on five hits in seven innings in a 7-1 loss.
Against the Boston lefthander, Jose Bautista has the most experience, facing Lester 67 times in his career with 11 hits, including four home runs and eight RBIs. Lester has held each of the current Blue Jay he has faced more than 20 times to sub-.300 batting averages, including Bautista (.193 in 57 AB), Edwin Encarnacion (.205 in 39 AB), Melky Cabrera (.282 in 39 AB), Dioner Navarro (.250 in 28 AB), Brett Lawrie (.214 in 28 AB), Adam Lind (.103 in 29 AB), and Jose Reyes (.053 in 19 AB).
The Blue Jays will counter Lester with an efficient lefthander of their own: 35-year-old Mark Buehrle. Buehrle has been phenomenal in his second year in Toronto, going 7-1 in nine starts with a 2.11 ERA. In his last outing, Buehrle lasted 6.2 innings against on May 17 against the Texas Rangers, surrendering two runs on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts, getting a no-decision in a game the Blue Jays would end up winning 4-2.
Like the Blue Jays with Lester, the Red Sox roster has a great deal of experience facing Buehrle, with David Ortiz leading the way with 85 plate appearances against Buehrle, hitting .325 with 10 doubles, four home runs and 14 RBIs. Grady Sizemore faced him 73 times while they were with the Indians and White Sox, respectively, with Sizemore hitting .217 with four home runs and eight RBIs. Dustin Pedroia (.389 in 36 AB), Jonny Gomes (.333 in 30 AB), and A.J. Pierzynski (.409 in 22 AB) are the Sox hitters who join Ortiz in hitting over .300 against Buehrle in more than 22 at bats.