Preview: Blue Jays in Boston (Everything is Happ-ening)

The Toronto Blue Jays (23-22) play their first three games of the season in Fenway Park tonight when the visit the Boston Red Sox (20-23) at 7:05 on Sportsnet 360.

The Blue Jays enjoyed their first off day in roughly three weeks yesterday to break up this six-game road trip between Arlington and Bahstan.

To be honest, though, they might want to continue on the road. They are 13-11 as visitors this season, while just 10-11 at the Dome. That’s a trend they’re going to have to reverse quickly, as they open up a 10-game homestand against Oakland, Tampa Bay and Kansas City on Friday night. That’s part of a stretch where they play 16 of 19 games at the Dome. I don’t honestly remember a string of that many home games together. That’s a HUGE opportunity to separate themselves from the pack, even though only four of those 16 games are against AL East opponents.

Speaking of poor home records, the Red Sox are even worse at 10-14. Overall they own a minus-12 run differential. The Jays continue to be the only team in the positive at plus-seven.

Stock_Happ01Tonight’s starting pitcher: J.A. Happ, who I feel is in dire need of a nickname. I vote for Hip-Happ-Anonymous, inspired by Big Daddy. Hip-Happ-Anonymous was pretty good his last time out on Thursday evening, holding Cleveland to just one earned run on six hits over six innings. He’s been Jekyl-and-Hyde over three starts this season, and according to that pattern is due for a Hyde tonight. Fingers crossed he can actually build some momentum and help turn this staff around.

For the home side, it’s lefty Felix Doubront. In his last three starts, he’s 1-0 with a 2.55 over 17.2 innings. He’s seemingly turned his season around after an awful 2.2 inning outing against the Yankees on April 24.

Here’s the all-right-handed lineup facing him tonight:

Blue Jays 05/20 (23-22)
SS 7 Jose Reyes .307 3 10
LF 53 Melky Cabrera .350 6 20
RF 19 Jose Bautista .433 11 30
1B 10 Edwin Encarnacion .330 9 31
3B 13 Brett Lawrie .288 7 24
DH 30 Dioner Navarro .298 1 17
2B 18 Steve Telleson .355 0 2
C 31 Erik Kratz .235 2 6
CF 11 Kevin Pillar .167 0 0
P 48 J.A. Happ 1.75 2 – 1 14/12

Some of the numbers for the Jays against him, career-wise:

Jose Reyes: 6-for-15 (.400), 1 HR, 2 RBI

Jose Bautista: 3-for-14 (.214), 3 HR, 3 RBI

Edwin Encarnacion: 5-for-15 (.333), 1 HR, 4 RBI

Brett Lawrie: 5-for-16 (.313)

Those are four of your first five hitters, along with Melky Cabrera, who is 0-for-3 in his career. We all know Adam Lind doesn’t hit lefties well, and Doubront his no exception. Lind is just 2-for-12 (.167). So a good idea to keep him and Johnny McFrank out of the lineup.

Oddly enough, lefties are hitting 5-for-17 (.340) against him this season. That’s a very small sample size, and one that probably should not lead you to insert left-handed htters against him.

The Jays are currently two games ahead of Boston in the AL East standings, so just one win in this series will ensure that they return home ahead of Boston, no worse than third in the division.

Your reward for making it through the entire post: the greatest ‘I Told You So!’ moment for any Jays fan:

Even if you can’t enjoy the game tonight, you can enjoy that.


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