Game 26: Red Sox at Blue Jays - Lester, Sox seek first series sweep
Ben Whitehead Contributing Writer
For the first time in 2014, the Boston Red Sox are on the verge of sweeping an opponent. The Sox bats have busted out in a big way against the Toronto Blue Jays, scoring 15 runs and hitting 13 extra-base hits, including three home runs, in two games.
No better person to have on the mound for a series sweep than ace lefty Jon Lester. His 2-3 record isn't indicative of how well he's pitched. Lester has a 2.67 ERA with 36 strikeouts and just eight walks in 33 2/3 innings. The most runs the Sox have scored when he's pitched this season is four and that lack of run support has been Lester's demise. In his last start, however, it was errors in the field that led to eight runs (three earned), as he couldn't make it past the fifth inning in a loss to the Yankees.
Lester has a career 15-7 record with a 3.55 ERA in 28 starts against Toronto. In the Rogers Centre, Lester is 7-5 with a 3.38 ERA lifetime. It's also a place where he has his lowest WHIP and lowest opponents batting average (more than five career starts): 1.022 and .188, respectively.
Here is the Red Sox (12-13) lineup for today's game (first pitch - 1:07 pm ET):
1) Pedroia, 2B 2) Sizemore, LF 3) Napoli, 1B 4) Pierzynski, DH 5) Middlebrooks3B 6) Gomes, RF 7) Bogaerts, SS 8) Bradley Jr., CF 9) Ross, C Lester, P
The Blue Jays (11-13) will send R.A. Dickey to the mound. The knuckleballer is 1-3 with a 5.90 ERA this season and hasn't won since April 5, a string of three winless starts. In his most recent outing, he struck out six in six innings against Baltimore, but picked up a no-decision. Dickey faced Boston twice in 2013 (once in Rogers Centre). The Sox won both games and tagged Dickey for 12 earned runs - five in the game in Toronto.
AJP orders up salami A.J. Pierzynski's grand slam in the third inning was the Red Sox first of 2014 and first since Shane Victorino's slam in Game 6 of the ALCS last year. It was the eighth career grand slam for Pierzynski.
Home, sweet Dome Will Middlebrooks loves him some Rogers Centre. In 13 career games there, he has 10 extra-base hits (five homers and five doubles) and nine RBI. Middlebrooks followed with a solo shot to go back-to-back with AJP, the second time the Sox have hit back-to-back jacks this year (April 22 - David Ortiz & Mike Napoli vs. Yankees).
Cap scoreless streak alive
Although he only faced two batters, Chris Capuano remains unscored upon this year. He struck out one and walked another in the eighth inning, before Koji Uehara got out of the jam. Capuano's streak stands at 14 1/3 innings in 2014 and 21 total dating to 2013. Earlier in the inning, Junichi Tazawa surrendered his first run of the year on a solo homer by Juan Francisco. In the ninth, Uehara allowed his first run, also via home run to Jose Bautista.
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