Blue Jays-Red Sox Preview
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
(AP) -- Mired in their longest skid under manager John Farrell, the Boston Red Sox have been playing more like the team that finished last in the AL East in 2012 than the one that won the World Series last season.
The Red Sox will try to avoid a fifth straight loss Tuesday night when they open a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays, who seek their sixth win in eight games.
Boston (20-23) didn't lose four in a row at any point during its championship run in Farrell's first season, making this slide the club's worst since dropping eight straight to close out 2012.
That team had a respectable offense but finished with one of the highest ERAs in baseball en route to a 69-93 record.
This year's version isn't getting it done in either area. Boston has totaled six runs and hit .189 in the last four games, while the rotation has posted a 5.73 ERA in the past six following Sunday night's 6-2 home loss to Detroit.
A.J. Pierzynski (2 for 25), Grady Sizemore (4 for 24), Dustin Pedroia (5 for 25) and Mike Napoli (9 for 51) are among those scuffling at the plate. David Ortiz was hitting .475 with five homers during a 10-game hitting streak before going 0 for 2 with two walks Sunday.
"We've got to be better in all phases," Farrell told the team's official website. "Toronto comes in here, and this is a team that's playing well. Collectively, we have to be better all the way around."
Farrell's club, which totaled 16 runs while taking two of three in Toronto from April 25-27, will try to regroup in this set before opening a stretch of 24 of 36 on the road.
The Blue Jays (23-22) had posted a 1.76 ERA over a five-game road winning streak before Sunday's 6-2 loss to Texas.
After starting the season on the disabled list before going to the bullpen, Toronto's J.A. Happ (2-1, 3.57 ERA) has pitched well in two of his first three starts.
The left-hander allowed one run over six innings in Thursday's 4-2 home win over Cleveland.
"I think you're always (trying to prove something) to somebody," Happ said. "I felt good, definitely nice to go out there and have a fairly strong outing."
Happ will make his first start at Fenway Park after going 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA in four starts against Boston dating to his time with Philadelphia.
Boston's Felix Doubront (2-3, 4.54) hopes to build on his last two outings in which he's given up two runs over 11 2-3 innings following a five-start stretch in which he went 0-3 with a 5.84 ERA.
The left-hander picked up his first victory since April 3 by surrendering one run over 6 1-3 innings in 9-4 victory at Minnesota on Wednesday. He went 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two home starts against the Blue Jays last season.
Toronto slugger Jose Bautista, who has three hits - all home runs - in 14 at-bats against Doubront, is 11 for 23 with five homers and 10 RBIs in his last six games at Fenway. Juan Francisco has gone 7 for 18 with three homers and seven RBIs in his last five overall.
The Blue Jays have dropped five of seven in Boston.
Updated May 19, 2014