Game 81: Blue Jays at Red Sox - Whooa, we're halfway there!

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

Are you ready for this? You’d better be, because it’s big…nay, huge…nay, GINORMOUS!

Fenway Park plays host to the most crucial four-game set to end the month of June, likely ever. The American League East-leading Boston Red Sox (47-33) open a series against East Division rival Toronto Blue Jays (39-38) tonight. Yeah, it’s only June, but what’s at stake gives this series an October-ish feel, minus cold weather. It’s going to be hot and muggy. Oh, the weather will be, too.

Forget the fact that the Blue Jays are in last place in the AL East. They are one of the hottest teams in baseball. Toronto has won 12 of its last 14 games, including 11-in-a-row, and their jolt got kick-started at the same place they visit this weekend. On May 10-12, the Jays took the final two games to win the series 2-1 against Boston and went on their tremendous run to move from over 10 games out to as close as five and over .500 for the first time this season.

Jon Lester aims to win his second straight game, something he hasn’t done since beginning the year 6-0. He was 0-4 before his most recent win, and in his last seven outings has a 7.30 ERA and one quality start. His ERA currently sits at 4.57, but he has said repeatedly he will get everything figured out.

Here is the Red Sox lineup against the Jays (first pitch – 7:10 pm EDT):

1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Victorino, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Carp, 1B
6. Nava, LF
7. Saltalamacchia, C
8. Drew, SS
9. Iglesias, 3B

Lester, P

Former Yankee Chien-Ming Wang is Toronto’s starter tonight. He is 1-0 in three starts with a 2.18 ERA. His last outing, he took a no-decision against the Orioles, in which he allowed one run in 6.1 innings.

Home cookin’
Fenway Park is built for this Red Sox team (or is it the other way around?) and it seems like the bats are figuring that out quite well. The Sox have amassed 30 hits, including eight doubles, in their last two games at home (both against the Rockies). Boston has the third-best home record in the American League (25-15, .625) behind Oakland (24-12, .667) and Detroit (26-15, .634) and the offensive outburst is the main reason why they are so good at home.

Running away
Not only are the Sox great at home, they are just great everywhere. Boston leads MLB with 410 runs scored, far and away more than the second place St. Louis Cardinals at 388 runs. Today is the halfway point of the season for the Sox (Game 81 of 162), meaning they are on pace to score over 825 runs by season’s end. As the summer months heat up, typically so do the Sox. That could mean even more runs coming at Fenway.

Mini-season No. 8 wrapped up
For the first time this season, the Sox went .500 over the eighth 10-game mini-season, of which I like to keep track. Interestingly enough, Boston has a 3.5-game lead over both the Orioles and Yankees, tied for its largest lead of the season. Here is the breakdown of how the mini-seasons have played out:

1) 6-4
2) 7-3
3) 7-3
4) 3-7
5) 7-3
6) 6-4
7) 6-4
8) 5-5

Record: 47-33

Let us know what you think about tonight’s game by commenting below.

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