September 5, 2017 / 3:15 AM / 20 days ago

Preview: Blue Jays at Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox hope to turn things around with a nine-game homestand that includes six contests against last-place teams, and one of them leads off as the Toronto Blue Jays visit on Monday for the opener of their three-game series. Boston’s lead over the New York Yankees in the American League East is down to 3 ½ games as it has dropped seven of its last 11 contests, but the club will face the slumping Blue Jays and AL West cellar-dwelling Oakland during its string at Fenway Park.

Jackie Bradley Jr. is 9-for-23 with seven RBIs in his last seven games for Boston, which totaled nine runs and 22 hits while losing three of four to the Yankees over the weekend after getting pounded 9-2 on Sunday. Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, who is 1-1 with a 0.66 ERA in two starts against the Blue Jays this year, goes after his 10th victory on Monday while Toronto counters with J.A. Happ in a matchup of 20-game winners from 2016. The Blue Jays have played themselves out of contention for a playoff spot with 12 losses in their last 16 games, including a 5-4 setback in 12 innings at Baltimore on Sunday. Josh Donaldson has gone 5-for-9 with a pair of homers and six RBIs in his last two games for Toronto, which is 3-10 versus the Red Sox in 2017.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, Sportsnet, TVA (Toronto), NESN (Boston)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays LH J.A. Happ (6-10, 3.96 ERA) vs. Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (9-15, 4.45)

Happ held Boston to one run on four hits and four walks over six innings of a no-decision on Wednesday to extend his winless streak to three games. The 34-year-old Northwestern product has completed seven frames twice in 20 starts and just once since his season debut on April 5. Happ has gotten the best of Xander Bogaerts (1-for-18) and Bradley (1-for-12) and is 5-3 with a 3.50 ERA in 15 career appearances (14 starts) against the Red Sox.

Porcello won in Toronto last time out , allowing just one run in 6 2/3 innings for his fifth victory in six turns and fourth quality start in five outings. The 28-year-old New Jersey native, who has registered 160 strikeouts over 176 frames, has notched six of his nine wins at home while posting a 5.03 ERA. Jose Bautista is 16-for-45 with four homers and 11 RBIs versus Porcello, who is 8-8 with a 4.50 ERA in 19 career games (18 starts) against the Blue Jays.

WALK-OFFS

1. Blue Jays All-Star 1B Justin Smoak is 1-for-13 in his last four games but has hit five homers and is batting .356 against Boston this year.

2. Boston RF Mookie Betts is hitting .357 with three homers, 18 RBIs, 10 walks and 14 runs scored versus the Blue Jays in 2017.

3. Toronto DH Kendrys Morales, who has belted 25 homers, is 0-for-14 with three strikeouts over his last three contests.

PREDICTION: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 3

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