After avoiding a three-game sweep at the hands of the Astros on Thursday, the Boston Red Sox will try to win back-to-back games when they begin a series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night. At home, the Red Sox are favored with a moneyline of -135. Meanwhile, Toronto’s moneyline is listed at +115.
Despite putting together a five-game winning streak recently, the Red Sox are just 6-4 during the month of June. While most teams would gladly take that, it’s not good enough when you’re chasing the best team in baseball. As it stands, the Red Sox trail the Rays by a game in the AL East.
Of course, the Blue Jays are 6.5 games back in the AL East. After losing a rubber match to the White Sox on Thursday, Toronto has now lost back-to-back series. They are now 4-4 in June, which is emblematic of the team’s inability to maintain any momentum this season.
Ross is Boss
Friday will be Ross Stripling’s turn to get a start for the Blue Jays. Over eight starts and one relief appearance this season, Stripling is 2-3 with a 4.71 ERA. While those numbers look mediocre, he’s yielded just two runs over his last 17 innings, so things are moving in the right direction for Stripling.
Of course, he’ll face one of the best offensive teams in baseball on Friday night. The Red Sox busted out of a mini-slump on Thursday by scoring 12 runs against the Astros. While Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez are both slumping a little lately, Xander Bogaerts is red-hot to lead the Boston lineup.
The Real Garrett Richards
Boston will counter Stripling with Garrett Richards, who will make his 13th start of the season on Friday. Richards is 4-4 with a 3.88 ERA, looking brilliant at times but also taking his lumps. Even if his ERA looks good, Richards also has a WHIP of 1.52 with opposing batters hitting .271 against him, indicating that he needs to pitch his way out of trouble sometimes.
As for the Blue Jays, they are sometimes an all-or-nothing lineup. Toronto has four players with at least 11 home runs on the season led by 18 from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. However, large chunks of the lineup are slumping right now, and if the Blue Jays don’t hit homers, they don’t always have other methods of scoring runs.
The good news for the Red Sox is that Richards hasn’t allowed a home run against anyone in Toronto’s lineup, albeit in a mere 53 at-bats against current Blue Jays. At the same time, Stripling has yielded five home runs in just 48 at-bats against players currently on Boston’s roster.
With the Red Sox creating a little momentum with Thursday’s outburst and the Blue Jays slumping, Richards is more likely than Stripling to deliver a quality start. Boston also has the more reliable bullpen. Bet on the Red Sox to beat the Blue Jays on Friday.
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