Wait, the Red Sox play tonight? Really? A series against the Blue Jays? Are you sure they're not trading Cliff Lee somehow?
Well, if you say so...
It's been a while since the Sox have gone up against Canada's team. When that series started, the Jays were 19-14 and just a few games back in the A.L. East. The Red Sox were 16-16, and fighting desperately to stay above .500. Since then, it's been opposite directions for the teams, with their roles being almost exactly reversed. The Sox are now 49-36 and trail the division by five, while the Jays sit at 43-43, almost out of contention.
Neither team has done particularly well of late. The Jays are 3-7 in their last ten games having lost two to the Yankees, and been swept, remarkably enough, in a four game series by the Yankees. They've won two in a row, though, which is more than the Red Sox can say for themselves and their four game losing streak.
So what's wrong with the Jays? Well, a little bit of everything. The Jays' hitting is middle-of-the-pack, with only Jose Bautista for a (surprising) impact bat. Vernon Wells has cooled off dramatically, and is getting worse as the year goes on. The same goes for Alex Gonzalez, whose home run frenzy from April has cooled, if not stopped, and doesn't really do much else offensively. Otherwise, there's some decent bats, but nothing to write home about besides the BABIP starved Aaron Hill and his line drive rate of 8.8%, or Adam Lind whose troubles are at least more luck related.
The Blue Jays starters have also picked up a bad habit of allowing a good few runs over the last weak. Despite a strong showing in June, July has been disaster after disaster so far. The usually solid ace Ricky Romero couldn't escape the third inning against the Yankees, and number two pitcher Brandon Morrow has been hittable in his last couple outings, though he's piled up the strikeouts. The final pitcher of the series, Jesse Litsch, is just a total disaster who shouldn't pose the Red Sox much of a problem-though we've seen how predictable they've been in the past.
With their four game losing streak putting them back in a hole in the East, the Red Sox need to dig themselves out. They've got a good combination of pitchers on the mound, and in the right order to compete with the Jays' starters. This is a series they can't afford to choke away.