At 92-66, the Red Sox have entered the postseason as AL East champions for the first time since 2013. Against Toronto, the Red Sox are 8-8 overall and 3-4 at home. Boston has leaned on journeyman David Ortiz this year, and he’s been happy to oblige. Despite announcing his impending retirement at the end of 2016 prior to the season, Ortiz is hitting .319 with 37 homers and 124 RBI’s, and has been supported by talented young hitters like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts. The Red Sox have alway been talented offensively, but their starting rotation has made all the difference this season. Hurlers such as David Price, Rick Porcello, and Drew Pomeranz have Boston on the fast track to a deep playoff run this October.
At 87-71, the Blue Jays trail the Sox, but currently hold the first AL wild card even though they lost to the Orioles recently, who are sitting pretty at 86-72. In order to keep this highly coveted position, they'll have to succeed at Fenway this weekend. Just like Boston, Toronto’s pitching staff has catapulted them to an elite status this year. Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, and Aaron Sanchez are rounding out one of the most well-balanced rotations in the entire MLB. At the same time, power hitters like Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and Michael Saunders have provided the offensive pop for this potent lineup.
The polarizing Clay Buchholz will make the start for Boston on Sunday. After almost being cut from the team earlier this year, Buchholz has rebounded to once again cement himself as a permanent member of the rotation. Not only that, but he’s won three of his last four starts and allowed more than three runs just once in his last 18 appearances. In two starts against Toronto, Buchholz is 1-0 with six runs allowed in 11 and two-thirds innings.
Aaron Sanchez has enjoyed a much more consistent season in 2016, though he’s had his own share of controversy. Seeing as this is his first year as a full-time starter, Sanchez was expected to follow an innings limit. However, he’s since surpassed that limit and is still making starts, even with the addition of Francisco Liriano. He’s just 2-1 in his last seven starts, but is 13-2 on the year with a 3.12 ERA. Boston has proved to be a nemesis of Sanchez, scoring 10 runs in 17 and a third innings off the youngster.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Though the Blue Jays hold the pitching advantage in this one, it’s probably not wise to bet against the Red Sox at home in such a crucial divisional game. Boston wins 9-4.