When the Toronto Blue Jays last saw the Boston Red Sox to open a four-game series at Fenway Park on June 27, the Jays were playing their best baseball of the season and were a game over .500 at 39-38. It was the first time all season that the preseason AL East favorites were above the break-even mark.
Boston won three of four in that series to put the Jays in their place, and Toronto hasn’t been over .500 since. Now, Toronto is essentially playing out the string as it hosts the Sox for three games starting Tuesday night. Bovada oddsmakers will set Boston around a -140 series betting favorite.
The Sox enter having lost three of four in Kansas City, but it was still a productive week as the Rays lost their final five games and are three games back in the division. Tampa Bay had been the AL East favorite briefly but is now +150 with Boston at -150. Toronto isn’t a betting option any longer.
The Blue Jays were originally set to start lefty J.A. Happ in Tuesday’s opener, but he was moved up to start Monday’s series finale against Oakland. Thus right-hander Todd Redmond (1-1, 4.22) was called up from Triple-A to start Tuesday. That spot used to belong to Esmil Rogers, but he was demoted to the bullpen after going 0-4 with an 8.50 ERA in his past seven starts.
Right-hander Josh Johnson, one of the players the Blue Jays acquired in the big Marlins trade in the offseason, was originally set to start Monday but was pushed back to Wednesday due to right forearm soreness. Johnson (2-8, 6.20) has been a total bust. Opponents are hitting .305 against Johnson, and he has allowed five or more runs in seven of his 16 starts. He pitched June 28 in Boston and allowed five runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings of a 7-5 defeat. That started a seven-game streak in which Toronto lost all his starts. Johnson ended that with five shutout innings last time out against Seattle.
No Red Sox hitter is hotter than Stephen Drew, and a hitting prop on him against Johnson might be a wise decision. Drew is 5-for-13 in his career off Johnson, Mike Napoli is 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs and David Ortiz has a homer in seven at-bats.
Thursday’s game will feature live betting as Toronto sends lefty Mark Buehrle (8-7, 4.43) to the hill. The Jays have won his past four starts. He allowed three runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings last time out against Oakland. He pitched in Boston on June 30 and allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings of a no-decision. Buehrle is 6-9 with a 4.63 career ERA against the Sox. Ortiz is hitting .358 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 67 at-bats off Buehrle, while Jonny Gomes is hitting .333 with three RBIs against him.
Boston leads the season series 8-5 and is 4-2 in Toronto.