The Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays will play the final game of an AL East series this Thursday evening in Canada. Boston is distancing themselves from the rest of the division and the rest of the MLB for that matter. Thanks to a sweep of the Yankees, they have a nine game lead over the rest of the AL East and seven more wins than any other team in baseball. The Blue Jays are all but out of the playoff race with 28 games separating them from the Red Sox.
This series started with an offensive battle that saw Boston come out on top 10-7. Mitch Moreland and Jackie Bradley Jr. both went deep in the top of the 10th to lead their team to victory. To the surprise of none, JD Martinez was also a factor in this one, hitting a three-run home run with two outs in the eighth to help send the game to extras. Toronto showed some power as well, hitting three home runs as a team but they will need to find a way to stop the Boston offense to pick up a win.
Red Sox inching towards history
The Boston Red Sox are unstoppable this year. With 80 wins already and nine wins in their last 10 games, they have a legitimate chance to chase down the 2001 Mariners record for most wins in a season. Their offense is very potent, scoring more runs than any other team in baseball. AL MVP candidate, JD Martinez is a huge reason for that stat. His 34 home runs and 97 RBI are both the best in the Majors. He has a shot at the triple crown with a .328 batting average but to win it, he will have to track down teammate, Mookie Betts. Betts is hitting .341 while 26 home runs, 58 RBI, and 21 stolen bases. As a team, Boston has six players with over 50 RBI making them the deepest offense in the league.
Rick Porcello will be the man on the mound for the Boston Red Sox this Thursday. He has been one of the better pitchers in baseball with a 14-4 record and 3.84 ERA in 23 starts this season. Porcello’s ERA has inflated a bit but it was only because of one poor start in which he gave up eight runs. He has bounced back wonderfully and pitched a complete game in his last start. He gave up just one hit which was a solo home run and managed to take care of the Yankees in only 100 pitches.
In the bullpen, the Red Sox have plenty of arms that can get the job done. Matt Barnes has been ultra reliable all season with a 2.39 ERA in 48 appearances. He has not given up more than two runs in a single appearance all year and opponents hit just .169 when he is on the mound. Boston also has a great closer in Craig Kimbrel who has locked down 33 saves with a 2.49 ERA, helping Boston feel confident in the ninth. He has stumbled a bit lately, but there is not yet any indication that he is losing his touch.
Toronto becoming too dependent on the long ball
The Toronto Blue Jays are pretty much out of the playoff picture but it is certainly not due to a lack of power. The Blue Jays rank seventh in baseball in home runs but they are too reliant on them for wins. Overall, Toronto has scored just the 17th most runs in the MLB in 2018. Their power hitting offense is led by Justin Smoak who has knocked 18 home runs with 57 RBI. His .255 batting average is also one of the best on the team which highlights the issues with consistency in Toronto. Yangervis Solarte has also been a big part of the Toronto offense with 17 home runs and 53 RBI. He has two hits and two walks in the first game against the Red Sox and will look to keep the ball rolling.
With the loss of JA Happ, the Blue Jays pitching has taken a big hit for a team that already has one of the highest ERA’s in baseball. Making the start for the Blue Jays this Thursday at home will be left-hander, Ryan Borucki. The 24-year-old rookie joined the rotation in late June and has done an excellent job so far. His record is just 1-2 in seven starts but his 2.30 ERA is a great sign. Borucki was especially effective in his last start against the Mariners in which he gave up just one run on four hits in eight innings of work.
The Toronto bullpen is not exactly a bright spot and with the loss of Seunghwan Oh to the Rockies, they are lacking in depth. That has put a large burden on Tyler Clippard to make appearance after appearance. He has shown up in 55 games already and that amount of work has begun to take its toll. Clippard had a rough July with a 5.58 ERA. If he cannot bounce back, the Blue Jays will be without a go-to man in the bullpen