Blue Jays-Red Sox Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 20, 2012
Cody Ross is coming up big for the surging Boston Red Sox. Adrian Gonzalez's recent tear is even more impressive. The duo looks to continue sparking the Red Sox as they go for a sixth win in eight games Friday night against the sputtering Toronto Blue Jays. Boston (48-45) has rebounded from a 1-6 stretch by winning five of seven since the All-Star break. Ross is among the biggest reasons for the team's resurgence. He went 7 for 14 with three homers and nine RBIs as Boston took three of four from the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox. He belted a pair of three-run homers in Wednesday's 10-1 victory, and followed that up a day later by connecting for another in walkoff fashion to cap the series with a 3-1 win. "I've always wanted to be up in those situations since I was like my son's age," Ross said. "It's a great feeling, especially when you're the hero." Also a major contributor lately is Gonzalez, who is hitting .430 with 19 RBIs in his last 21 games. That stretch has raised his average 42 points to .298 and increased his slugging percentage from .392 to .440. A series with Toronto (45-47) could keep Gonzalez and Ross hot. Gonzalez is batting .358 with six homers and 26 RBIs in his past 23 meetings with the Blue Jays, while Ross has a .368 average with 10 runs in 10 matchups. Gonzalez went 5 for 13 and drove in five as the Red Sox took two of three from the Jays at Fenway Park from June 25-27. Scheduled Boston starter Josh Beckett (5-7, 4.44 ERA) looks to build on his first win in nearly a month. The right-hander battled the flu and Tampa Bay on Sunday, allowing three runs and eight hits with seven strikeouts in six innings of a 7-3 road win. He had been 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA over his previous six outings. Beckett will face Toronto for the first time this season after going 1-0 while allowing one run and fanning 15 in 10 2-3 innings over two starts in 2011. The Blue Jays have lost seven of 10 were outscored 18-4 in three straight losses to the New York Yankees, including Wednesday's 6-0 rain-shortened defeat. Losing slugger Jose Bautista to a left wrist injury has been a problem for Toronto, which scored one run in two games without its home run (27) and RBI (65) leader. Bautista is expected to be out until at least Aug. 1. "I think we are all going to have to step up now that (Bautista's) out," Adam Lind told the team's official website. Lind is hitting .323 in 19 games after a .186 average led to a demotion to the minors. "My rhythm and timing, which is what I worked on (at Triple-A Las Vegas), is going well so far," said Lind, who is 8 for 19 with four doubles and a homer against Beckett. Aaron Laffey (1-1, 3.38) is expected to take the mound in search of back-to-back winning starts. The left-hander was credited with an 11-9 victory over Cleveland on Saturday, allowing four runs and eight hits in five innings. He's 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in two starts at Fenway, but pitched six scoreless innings June 26 before leaving without a decision after the Red Sox rallied for a 5-1 victory.
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