Surging Blue Jays host struggling Red Sox

MLB

The struggling Boston Red Sox will find themselves in a difficult place to stop a tailspin when they visit the surging Toronto Blue Jays for a four-game series that starts Friday night.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was blunt about his team’s poor play Thursday after an 8-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers, dropping Boston to 1-5 on its road trip.

“It wasn’t a good effort today,” Cora said. “Where we’re at right now, we’ve got to get better, and that’s the bottom line.”

The Red Sox have lost seven of their past nine as they prepare to face the AL East rival Blue Jays, who are 6-1 in their first homestand at Rogers Centre since Sept. 29, 2019.

The Blue Jays defeated the Cleveland Indians 3-0 Thursday to take the four-game series 3-1.

“For us to pull this off, we have to play better baseball overall,” Cora said. “It looks like right now we’re a step slower. We’re not moving well. I know we’re in August, right? It’s a grind. We have a good opportunity to play in October and we put ourselves in this situation. People can doubt us, or they can feel like this team can do it. But bottom line, we have to show up every day and play better.”

Boston will start right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (9-6, 3.71 ERA) against Toronto’s rookie right-hander Alek Manoah (3-1, 2.47).

The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday.

Manoah will be facing the Red Sox for the second time this season. He did not factor in the decision on June 14 when he allowed one run and four hits in six innings in a 2-1 loss in Boston.

Eovaldi was the Red Sox starter in that game and also did not factor in the decision after allowing three hits in 6 2/3 scoreless innings. In eight career appearances (seven starts) against the Blue Jays, Eovaldi is 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA.

During the first seven games of their homestand, Blue Jays starters have combined for a 1.25 ERA over 43 1/3 innings.

The Red Sox are second in the AL East with the Blue Jays five games behind them in fourth.

“Now you start to look at the standings a little more,” said Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien, who was 1-for-4 with a double on Thursday. “I know we’re not in September yet and we don’t want to look at the standings every day, but we do know that we can gain ground if we get a win playing the team that you are chasing.”

The Blue Jays are eight games above .500 (57-49) for the first time since they finished the 2016 season at 89-73.

“I’ve been saying all along that I believe we can make a run,” said shortstop Bo Bichette, who had a two-run homer and an RBI single on Thursday. “Nothing changes. Try to win every game every day.”

“We have good players also,” Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers said Thursday. “They’ll obviously be up for the challenge. We respect what the Blue Jays have, but we just keep doing the same thing as far as preparing and trying to zone in on our game-planning and pitch selection. Trying to grind out at-bats and keep the line moving and not chase results.”

–Field Level Media

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