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Boston/Toronto over 5 -115:
John Lackey will be in a familiar spot as he resumes his career for the first time since September 2011 when he underwent Tommy John surgery. His last start was at Yankee Stadium which ended a horrible stretch during a month he went 0-2 with a better than 9.00 ERA. Boston can only hope 2013 brings results deserving of the 5 year $83M deal he signed in December 2009. Lackey, who went 69-38 with a 3.49 ERA in his last five seasons with the Angels, had a 4.40 ERA in his first season in Boston before posting a 6.41 ERA in 2011 that was the majors' worst of any pitcher to throw at least 150 innings.
Lackey showed signs of improvement through four starts during spring training. He yielded three runs in 8 2-3 innings over his last two games after being tagged for four runs in three innings in his first two. He has struggled mightily against the Blue Jays (1-3) in eight starts as a member of the Red Sox, going 2-4 with a 9.14 ERA.However if there's ever a sign he'll be getting ample run support, Boston has still won five of its last seven games in Toronto after opening this three-game set with a 6-4 victory Friday in John Farrell's return after being hired away by the Sox. Mike Napoli, another new addition, is looking to build on his performance in the opener of this series. He hit a two-run homer and drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning while playing first base for the fourth game in a row.
Not exactly living up to expectations so far in Toronto though it's is still early, the Blue Jays are off to a sluggish start after retooling their roster via a 12-player trade with Miami during the offseason, a deal that included the acquisitions of Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio. Reyes had his best game with Toronto on Friday, going 4 for 5 with two doubles, a homer and two RBIs. However, Bonifacio struck out four times and had a career-high three errors, becoming the first Blue Jay to accomplish the dubious feat since Juan Guzman on May 23, 1997.
Toronto counters Lackey with JJ Happ, another pitcher looking to find his identity after up and down seasons with Philadelphia and Houston. The left-hander cracked the 'Jays rotation after a successful spring training where he recorded a 1.90 ERA. That led to a two-year, $8.9 million extension after Happ went 3-2 with a 4.69 ERA in 10 games last season for the 'Stros.
We get a decent price this afternoon at Rogers Center and the roof will likely be closed as we are still in the early part of the spring. The Sox should build on good starts by Jose Iglesias, Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia while despite the overall slow start the Jays are showing some signs belting 9 HR though their first 4 games. We look for this one to easily eclipse the first half total early as these pitchers look to regain their rhythm several years back. Best of luck however you play!
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