MLB

Red Sox-Blue Jays Preview

The Toronto Blue Jays finally busted out of some woes at the plate.

That figures to be bad news for Boston Red Sox starter Wade Miley as he faces the club that excels the most against left-handers.

Miley has lost his last five starts against division opponents and gets the ball Thursday night as the visiting Red Sox look to capture a four-game series.

Toronto (42-38) closed out June by totaling seven runs while batting .154 in losing three of four, including the first two games of this series. The Blue Jays built a seven-run lead after two innings Wednesday and cruised to an 11-2 rout to snap the Red Sox's three-game win streak.

Justin Smoak homered from both sides of the plate, three other Blue Jays went deep and Jose Reyes had four hits and scored four runs as Toronto finished with 16 hits - one shy of matching a season high.

''This is what we needed,'' manager John Gibbons said. ''We've been shut down the past few days.''

Now it's up to Miley (7-7, 4.38 ERA) to slow down that attack after going 0-5 with a 7.01 ERA in his last five outings against the AL East. That includes a 7-0 loss at Toronto on May 8 in which he surrendered four runs in six innings.

That victory is part of the Blue Jays' AL-best 11-5 mark against left-handed starters. Toronto leads the majors with a .306 average against southpaws.

Reyes is 4 for 8 against Miley and Edwin Encarnacion is 3 for 4 with two doubles. Russell Martin has faced Miley the most among Toronto hitters, going 3 for 12 with six strikeouts.

Miley pitches his best in July, going 11-4 with a 2.40 ERA. He went 3-2 with a 3.30 ERA in five starts in June after allowing two runs over 6 1-3 innings in Saturday's 4-1 defeat at Tampa Bay.

Boston (36-44) owns a .226 average against left-handers for one of baseball's worst marks as it gets its first look at Toronto rookie Matt Boyd, who makes his second start.

Boyd gave up four runs - three on solo homers - in 6 2-3 innings in Saturday's 4-0 loss to Texas in his big-league debut. He was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo to take the place of the injured Aaron Sanchez.

"I wasn't nervous, I was excited," said Boyd, who allowed nine hits and struck out seven with no walks. "It's definitely something to build on."

He hopes Toronto can duplicate its outburst from Wednesday. Encarnacion hit a three-run homer and Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson also went deep, with Bautista ending an 0-for-25 slump with a two-run shot in the second inning.

Boston outfielder Hanley Ramirez went 1 for 4 with a triple as he returned to the lineup after missing six games with a sore left hand.

Mookie Betts, who homered Wednesday, is batting .404 during a 13-game hitting streak against Toronto. Manager John Farrell wasn't happy after the center fielder lost track of the number of outs in the sixth inning.

''There's no excuse for that,'' Farrell said. ''Losing track of the outs in the inning, it can't be accepted.''

Boston is expected to activate catcher Ryan Hanigan, out since May 1 with a fractured hand.

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