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Toronto/Boston over 4.5 -120:
With Boston fans on their heels eager to find out if and when Jon Lester gets traded, tonight the 30 year old southpaw was scratched from his scheduled start only enhancing the anticipation. Meanwhile Toronto (58-50) rides the heels of a 4 game winning streak and is looking to sweep the defending champion Red Sox (48-59) which could cut their 2.5 game deficit to Baltimore. A few nights ago Melky Cabrera homered from both sides of the plate and drove in 5 runs while Ryan Goins went 4 for 5 with 4 more RBI in a 14-1 rout. RA Dickey (9-10) gave up just a run on 3 hits and struck out 10 over 7 innings while Clay Buchholz (5-7) was tagged for 7 runs on 7 hits over 5 IP. Tuesday night Marcus Stroman pitched 7 strong giving up just a run on 6 hits while Colby Rasmus went deep in a 4-2 win. Casey Janssen picked up his 17th save in 19 opportunities while Ruby De La Rosa yielded 3 runs on 9 hits over 6 IP for his 4th loss against 3 wins.
Mark Buehrle (10-7 3.19) takes the hill for the Blue Jays looking for his first win in nearly 2 months. Since June 1st, the 35 year old southpaw has lost his last 6 decisions with an ERA well over 5 and got roughed up over his last appearance against the Yankees. Buehrle yielded 6 ER on 9 hits over 3 IP in a 6-4 defeat. This evening he faces a Boston lineup who is hitting just .246 overall and averaging 3.8 runs per contest, a far cry from the offense that last season led them to their 3rd World Series title in 9 years. Brock Holt (.306 3 23) is the only player on the team hitting better than .300 but is mired in a 3 for 28 slump (.107) over the last week. Dustin Pedroia (.274 4 38) recently ended an 0 for 17 slump and has battled back to hit safely in 5 of his last 6 (.364) while leading the Bosox with 52 runs scored. David Ortiz (.250 25 77) may sit this evening against another lefty but is always available to come off the bench as a PH. Ortiz is having another great season despite the Red Sox inconsistencies at the plate. If big papi sits, Mike Napoli (.272 12 36) will likely serve as the DH. Xander Bogaerts (.241 8 26) is also coming around hitting safely in 5 of his last 6 (.314) including a HR last night. His future with the ballclub looks bright as a permanent owner of the hot corner. Daniel Nava (.257 2 13) seems to be coming around after an ineffective first half, going 6 for his last 17 (.353) Shane Victorino (.273 2 14) who has missed the bulk of the season with hamstring and back injuries is 10 for his last 27 (.370) since being recalled from AAA Pawtucket.
Boston counters with Brian Workman (1-3 4.13) who was called up last night from AAA Pawtucket to start for Lester this evening. The 25 year old second year player has shown some flashes of dominance during the early part of the season but has not gotten his stuff together over his last few starts. Workman has lost his last 3 decisions giving up 12 ER over his last 18 IP (6.00) and has not won since June 10th. Brandon has his work cut out for him (no pun intended) facing a Toronto lineup that is hitting .265 overall and is averaging nearly 4.7 runs per contest including crushing a major league leading 130 HR. Cabrera (.311 14 59) is 6th in the AL in hitting and is carrying a 6 game hitting streak (.385). Jose Bautista (.296 20 61) got off to a slow start due to injuries but has come back strong right into the second half going 10 for 25 (.400) over his last 7 games. Edwin Encarnarcion (.277 26 70) remains on the DL with a quad injury but is hopeful to return when the team returns home August 5th. Jose Reyes (.276 8 33) leads the Jays in steals with 19 while caught just once (95%). He is hitting .345 during the month of July and will be a tough out for the remainder of the season if he remains healthy. Juan Francisco (.229 16 40) has made the most of his playing time platooning with recentlyl acquired Danny Valencia (.279 2 11). Rasmus (.223 14 33) has a 4 game hitting streak but needs to be a bit more selective with the pitches he sees due to his 87 K's in just 243 at bats.
We get a fairly expensive price this evening at Fenway where no matter what the pitching matchup you can throw the records out. Known for being the league's Nintendo with Pesky Pole dimensions at only 302 feet down the right field line, hitters from both sides of the plate can endure big innings where no lead to the opposing pitchers are safe. With the Green Monster barely a stone's throw away, all it takes is a long high fly ball to sneak over the 37 foot fence. Buehrle is long overdue for a win let alone a solid outing and may have his way with a seemingly depleted Red Sox lineup. However Boston has has its share of opportunities driving runs home, they just look a lot better on paper than they have on the field. Toronto's core part of the lineup could once again have another field day against Workman, who will need a ton of run support if his Sox have plans on salvaging a win in this series. With Boston playing out the string and Toronto fighting for a division and postseason spot, the offenses should have their way where the focus could be on where Jon Lester goes by the time this one is in the books. Best of luck however you play!
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