The Toronto Blue Jays’ bats finally woke up en route to a 7-3 win in the series opener against the Boston Red Sox on Friday night. Now Boston will try to even things up in this crucial weekend set on Saturday afternoon, with first pitch from Fenway Park scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET. Jose Berrios (8-7, 3.31 ERA) will take the mound for the visitors, while reliever John Schreiber (1-1, 3.74) will serve as the opener for the Red Sox before giving way to bulk man Chris Murphy.
After dropping three of four to the Baltimore Orioles in resounding fashion earlier in teh week, Toronto picked up a much-needed win over their closest competition for the third and final AL Wild Card spot. The Jays are now two games up on the Seattle Mariners and 2.5 games up on Boston. They’ll continue their road trip with a series in Cleveland against the Guardians next week.
The Red Sox have hit the skids at an inopportune time, dropping five of their last six games after Friday’s defeat. Boston still trails Toronto by only two games in the loss column, and they can get right back on track with a win on Saturday. They’ll welcome the Kansas City Royals to Fenway for a three-game set starting Monday.
Boston is the -120 favorite on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Jays coming in at +100. The run total is set at 9.5.
Blue Jays-Red Sox picks: Saturday, August 5
Out: RP Trevor Richards (neck), RP Jay Jackson (bereavement), RP Jordan Romano (back), SS Bo Bichette (knee)
Day-to-day: 1B/DH Justin Turner (heel)
Out: SP Garrett Whitlock (elbow)
Jose Berrios vs. John Schreiber
Berrios has been a god-send for a Toronto rotation that hasn’t gotten the production they expected from higher-profile arms like Alek Manoah and Chris Bassitt. The righty put the finishing touches on a sterling July last time out, spinning six innings of one-run ball against the Los Angeles Angels to lower his ERA for the month to just 1.84. His slurve remains a powerful weapon, and his resurgence this year coincides with shelving his very hittable four-seam fastball (.305 xBA, .544 xSLG allowed) in favor of a sinker that’s producing lots of ground-ball outs.
Schreiber will be making his second start of the season, as a Red Sox rotation that’s been hit hard by injuries continues to employ an opener ahead of both Murphy and Nick Pivetta. Schreiber last served in the role last month against the Atlanta Braves, coughing up a run on two hits in his one inning of work. He’ll pretty quickly give way to Murphy, a rookie lefty who’s been excellent in a bulk role so far this year — especially in July, when allowed just three earned runs over 18.1 innings across five appearances. He last took the mound against the San Francisco Giants, giving up one unearned run on four hits in 3.1 innings.
The Red Sox offense has suddenly hit the skids — they’ve scored more than three runs just once over their last seven games — and with Justin Turner’s status still in doubt for today’s game, I think Berrios should be able to have success. There’s always a chance that Fenway rears its head, and Toronto has plenty of offensive firepower of its own, but the Jays have fallen short of this total in seven of their last nine games.
Pick: Under 9.5
Friday’s outburst against James Paxton may have been just what this Jays lineup needed to snap out of their funk, and they should be in position to succeed again facing another lefty in Murphy. Berrios has been among the steadiest arms in the game in recent weeks, and I think he does just enough to get Toronto a second straight win.
Pick: Blue Jays