Jon Lester gets the start in Sunday's series finale, and the last time he faced the Blue Jays, they knocked him around for 11 runs over four-plus innings.
That was on July 22. Since then, he's 4-3 with a 4.05 ERA.
"That's not a typical day for Jon Lester by any means," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who was Lester's pitching coach for four years in Boston. "He's a [darn] good pitcher, a talented one. As we've seen from our own guys, they go through stretches where things aren't clicking. It just goes to show you that the elite in this game ride a little bit of a fine line when their performances are consistent and well-above average to days when they scuffle, and that was one today."
The Blue Jays took six straight from the Red Sox before this series, so a three-game sweep would be a bit of revenge in these teams' final meeting of the season. Toronto is 10-7 against Boston this season, good for its first season series victory against the Sox since 2006. The Blue Jays went 8-10 against the Sox last year.
Lester will be opposed by right-hander Brandon Morrow, who hasn't reached seven innings in any of his four starts since coming back from a strained left oblique muscle. The righty didn't reach five innings his last time out, against Seattle on Tuesday, but he also hasn't gotten burned in a big way: he's allowed a combined nine runs in those four starts.
The Sox haven't seen Morrow yet this season. Lifetime, they've rocked him to the tune of a 9.53 ERA. A lot of that damage was done last year, when he gave up 26 earned runs to Boston in 19 innings.
Lester has held Toronto to a .207 average (97-for-469) in his career. The only American League club he's done better against is Kansas City, .176.
Red Sox: Bailey a late-season boon
The Red Sox were without their intended closer for most of 2012. Andrew Bailey's back now, and for the first time as a member of the Red Sox, he's notched back-to-back saves.
"I feel great," said Bailey, who injured his right thumb while covering first base during a Grapefruit League game and would undergo surgery a day before the season opened. "Coming into Spring Training, I felt great. I was still throwing great. The thumb, I don't even think about it anymore. It feels good. There's no pitches or anything that I have to watch out for. You don't even think about it -- until you're questioned about it."
Bailey's season has been frustrating, like most of the Red Sox. The positive is that he's here now.
"Getting traded over here, I was extremely excited with the expectations that we had going into this year," Bailey said. "For me, that injury was terrible and very frustrating, but you've got to keep on looking forward and realize that the day that you're active and helping the team win ballgames will come, and that's what I'm doing now. So for me, it's going out there and getting as many [saves] as I can and getting my work in and staying focused on this year, but getting that work in for next year as well."
Blue Jays: Farrell intends to keep basepath pressure high
The Blue Jays came into Saturday with more unforced errors on the basepaths (98) than just two teams, Tampa Bay (102) and San Diego (106). Manager John Farrell doesn't think that should be a deterrent.
"We know that we're probably going to run into more outs," Farrell said, "so we're fully accepting that in plays, whether it's going first-to-third -- where we're forcing the outfielder to make an accurate throw -- that's a risk we're fully accepting.
"Are there other plays that happen that are unforced errors that shouldn't take place? Yeah, there's a distinct line where an accepted aggressive out comes into play versus others."
Boston's final 24 games of the season are against American League East rivals. They're 3-5 on that stretch. The Blue Jays are 10-7 against the Red Sox this season.