Four of the five starters in the rotation for the Boston Red Sox are carrying ERAs over 5.00 through their first few turns of the young season with the lone exception being their prized acquisition in the offseason. Left-hander Chris Sale will make his fourth start when the Red Sox wrap up a three-game series at the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon.
Sale was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a blockbuster trade in December and has lived up to the hype with Boston, which was blanked by Toronto 3-0 on Wednesday to snap its four-game winning streak. The 6-6 Sale easily could have won all three of his outings, but the Red Sox have provided him with a paltry six runs of offensive support. The Blue Jays own the worst record in the majors at 3-11 but have a chance to post back-to-back victories for the first time and earn their first series win of the season. Center fielder Kevin Pillar is riding a seven-game hitting streak after recording his second consecutive three-hit performance.
TV: 12:37 p.m. ET, MLB Network, NESN (Boston), Sportsnet (Toronto)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Chris Sale (1-1, 1.25 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RH Marco Estrada (0-1, 3.50)
Sale is coming off another overpowering performance, striking out 12 while allowing one run on three hits over seven innings against Tampa Bay to earn his first win with Boston. A 17-game winner with Chicago in 2016, Sale has fanned 29 while yielding only three runs and 11 hits over 21 2/3 innings. The 28-year-old has made eight appearances (five starts) against Toronto, logging a 4-2 record and 2.25 ERA, but Steve Pearce is 4-for-12 against him.
Estrada bounced back from a rocky outing at Tampa Bay with a stellar effort last time out against Baltimore, permitting four hits over seven scoreless innings while striking out eight in a no-decision. The 33-year-old Mexican coughed up three homers over five innings in his previous turn and pitched six innings of two-run ball in his season debut. Estrada made five starts against Boston in 2016, going 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA.
1. Red Sox RF Mookie Betts’ streak of 129 plate appearances without a strikeout ended in the fourth inning Wednesday.
2. Blue Jays LF Ezequiel Carrera has a homer and three RBIs in the series to extend his hitting streak to four games.
3. Red Sox rookie OF Andrew Benintendi has hit safely in four straight, going 9-for-17.
PREDICTION: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 2