Bobby Valentine hopes to move beyond his controversial comments as the Red Sox return to Fenway Park after a dismal road trip to face the last-place Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night. Valentine's first year in Boston (63-75) has been an extremely difficult one with the team headed for its second straight year out of the postseason. There has been talk that Valentine's job could be in jeopardy and the manager didn't help himself with some controversial comments. alentine claimed he was kidding when he threatened to punch a talk-show host in the mouth Wednesday, making the comment during an interview on Boston radio station WEEI with hosts Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley.
he issue stemmed from a report that Valentine arrived later than normal for a game in Oakland last week, and he was asked if he's "checked out" on the season. The Red Sox's travels went far worse than that, losing eight of nine on a West Coast trip while averaging 2.3 runs and hitting .223. They capped that dismal stretch by mustering five hits in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Seattle. Cody Ross continues to be one of the few offensive bright spots, getting three hits Wednesday to give him a .341 average with 11 RBIs in 11 games. He's been even better over his last 13 home contests, hitting .407 while knocking in 12 runs. Boston may need Ross to continue his hot hitting with struggling Felix Doubront (10-7, 5.03 ERA) scheduled to take the mound.
The left-hander is 0-3 with a 7.85 ERA over his last six starts, and he's pitched beyond the fifth inning just once in that span. His latest start was the shortest of his career, getting tagged for five runs and six hits over three innings of a 7-1 loss to Oakland. Doubront is 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in three outings against Toronto this year. He gave up seven runs - five earned - and 11 hits in six innings of a 9-6 loss June 25 at Fenway. Henderson Alvarez (7-12, 5.04) beat Doubront in that matchup, allowing five runs - three earned - in five innings. The right-hander won at Boston again July 22, despite getting tagged for seven runs and two homers in 5 2-3 innings of a 15-7 victory. Like Doubront, however, Alvarez has struggled in his last six games, going 0-5 with a 7.67 ERA. He lost again Saturday, yielding four runs and five hits with four walks in five innings of a 5-4 defeat to Tampa Bay.
The venue may support the higher total we need to cash this evening, but we feel the return back to Fenway may just be what the struggling Sox need to at least make a lost season at the very worst respectable. Toronto just ended a 4 game losing streak with a win over Baltimore Wednesday, and despite a ton of injuries that has decimated this ballclub, the only silver lining could be avoiding to finish in the AL East basement. Edwin Encarnacion (.282 37 95) is putting up career numbers in a season that has seen Jose Bautista (.241 27 65) succumb to season ending wrist surgery. Colby Rasmus (.225 21 69) has been the other main deep threat, however his power has been overshadowed by his inconsistency at the plate. JP Arencibia (.242 16 50) has been activated off the DL this evening as has Brett Lawrie (.282 9 40) so it will be somewhat of a challenge for a once dominant Doubront to shake off his struggles. Meanwhile Boston's overall average dipped to .267 over the 9 game disastrous road trip and have had their fair share of injuries themselves despite still ranking second in runs scored. Of course the huge trade earlier last month really set back the offense as had the prolonging injury to David Ortiz (.318 23 60). Ross (.279 20 73) along with Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.227 23 53) and Dustin Pedroia (.290 12 55) have been the mainstaysof the offense. Will Middlebrooks (.288 15 54) is also likely out for the season so the Sox are going to have to perhaps play some smallball while depending upon the hotter hitters in the lineup which could be a good thing against Alvarez. Best of luck however you play!