About a month after Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos “traded” manager John Farrell to Boston last winter, Anthopoulos surprised many by hiring John Gibbons as Farrell’s replacement. Gibbons had managed Toronto from 2004-08 and had a 305-305 record, back when Anthopoulos was the team’s assistant GM.
Gibbons was the third-winningest manager in team history but never led Toronto to the playoffs. Anthopoulos said he wanted a manager familiar with the organization and city. Even Gibbons was surprised. When he flew to Toronto to meet with Anthopoulos last November, he thought it was for a bench coach or a scouting job.
The Blue Jays have been a disaster so far this season, although it’s not Gibbons’ fault that Jose Reyes got injured and reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey has regressed. It’s a rarity when an MLB season goes by in which a manager isn’t fired, and Gibbons would have to be on any short list of the favorites, along with the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Scioscia and Dodgers’ Don Mattingly.
Toronto is playing a little better of late but sits at the bottom of the AL East despite a huge increase in payroll and talent. The Jays visit Fenway for the first time this season for three games starting Friday, and Boston will be a sizable series betting favorite.
The Sox are 4-2 against the Blue Jays this season, although it must be noted that Toronto only had Reyes and star Jose Bautista for three games each. Reyes had eight hits in 12 at-bats against Boston pitching. Outfielder Colby Rasmus and catcher J.P. Arencibia have killed the Sox this year. Rasmus is hitting .389 with a homer and four RBIs in 18 at-bats and Arencibia is batting .304 with a homer and three RBIs in 23 at-bats. On the flip side, Melky Cabrera is batting just .130 against the Sox and Edwin Encarnacion .120, although he has homered twice.
The Jays are scheduled to start right-hander Brandon Morrow (1-2, 4.69) in Friday’s opener. He faced the Sox on April 30 in a 9-7 Blue Jays win, allowing three runs and six hits (two homers) in five innings. David Ortiz homered off Morrow in that game and is batting .412 in his career off him with three homers and five RBIs. Jacoby Ellsbury is batting .474 with three homers and eight RBIs.
Lefty Mark Buehrle (1-2, 7.02) is scheduled to start Saturday. He’s also been a huge disappointment after arriving in the big Marlins trade. Buehrle faced Boston on May 1, a 10-1 Sox win, and allowed five runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava homered off Buehrle. Ortiz also loves facing Buehrle, hitting .359 with three homers and 13 RBIs off him. The former White Sox ace is 3-3 with a 5.60 ERA in his career at Fenway.
Sunday’s Toronto starter will be named later this week. It was lefty J.A. Happ‘s turn in the rotation, but he was scarily hit in the head by a line drive against Tampa Bay on Tuesday and hospitalized overnight. Happ was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
The Sox were 2-7 at home against Toronto in 2012, being swept twice.
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