Blue Jays-Red Sox Preview
The Toronto Blue Jays are coming up short against the Boston Red Sox, and that could eventually be the case in the AL wild-card chase.
After avoiding a scare, R.A. Dickey will try to help the Blue Jays salvage a victory from this three-game series at Fenway Park on Sunday.
Toronto (72-69) has dropped four of five games against Boston (63-79), with three of those defeats coming by one run, including the first two this weekend.
There isn't much margin for error for the Blue Jays, who are coming off Saturday's 4-3 loss and are chasing Seattle for the second wild-card spot with three other teams in between.
"We're still in this thing. We're hanging on by a thread," manager John Gibbons said. "They've been two close ballgames, they could have gone either way, but we just came up short."
R.A. Dickey (11-12, 3.94 ERA) will try to help Toronto avoid its first three-game sweep to the Red Sox since June 2011. He's fortunate to be taking the mound after he was hit in the head with a fly ball off the bat of Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria during batting practice Wednesday.
The knuckleballer was impressive a day earlier, holding the Rays to two runs and two hits over seven innings in an 8-2 victory.
That came a week after he allowed three runs - one earned - in the opening inning before tossing five scoreless in an 11-7 defeat in 11 at home to Boston.
Dickey is 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 25 1-3 innings over four starts against the Red Sox this year. He earned a 14-1 win in his only appearance at Fenway on July 28, fanning 10 while allowing one run in seven innings.
Dickey may not have to contend with Mike Napoli, who is 6 for 18 against him but left after the second inning Saturday with an illness.
David Ortiz is also 6 for 18 against Dickey with two homers and two doubles. Dickey has limited Dustin Pedroia to four hits in 24 at-bats, but he connected for a two-run homer off him in the first inning Aug. 26.
Yoenis Cespedes has five hits and three RBIs in this series for the Red Sox and is batting .382 over his last 13 games.
Boston will give the ball to Rubby De La Rosa (4-5, 3.89), who is 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA in his last four starts. He's been even worse in three starts this season against the Blue Jays, losing both decisions while posting a 7.36 ERA.
The right-hander opposed Dickey on Aug. 26 and was staked to a three-run lead before taking the mound, but he relinquished it by giving up three runs in 4 2-3 innings.
De La Rosa allowed three runs - all in the third - over 5 1-3 innings Monday in a 4-3 win in 10 at Tampa Bay.
"I thought he made a number of quality pitches," manager John Farrell told MLB's official website.
Juan Francisco is 4 for 6 with a homer and double against De La Rosa.