Game three of the weekend series sees the Toronto Blue Jays' Henderson Alvarez face off against southpaw Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox. The Blue Jays have already secured the series win, and are looking for their first series sweep since facing the Philadelphia Phillies at home. If the Jays win this afternoon, they will change spots in the standings with Boston. This is coming from being swept out of New York with the Jays looking horrible and having lost Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie with injuries. Whatever you say, this team is resilient.
This afternoon, our heroic azure-tinged corvidae will be hoping that the hosiery gules' Jon Lester will continue his struggling ways. High Heat Stats looked at Lester's stats to try to determine why he has been struggling: he is striking out 1 fewer batter and giving up 2 more hits every 9 innings. Combine that with a .331 BABIP and he's got a problem--opponents are hitting .282/.332/.448 off of him. And, as HHS's Andy points out, Lester has turned to his sinker as much as his fastball this year, according to PitchFX.
Of course, he has also been involved in a series of negative press outside the white lines, involving beer, fried chicken, and golf. Last week, he had to go out on Twitter to say that he loves Boston after Peter Gammons mentioned that he was unhappy on a local radio show. The Red Sox are 7-12 with him on the mound this year. His last win actually came against the Blue Jays, back on June 27 (he gave up 4 runs and 7 hits in that game). He hasn't been able to finish the 5th in his last two starts, giving up 10 earned runs, 16 hits, and 5 walks through 8 innings total while striking out 10. In those two starts, an astounding 51.7% of balls in play fell in for a hit.
|2012 - Jon Lester||5-7||20||19||2||0||0||0||116.1||129||68||62||12||33||98||4.80||1.39|
Taking the bump for the good guys will be young Henderson Alvarez. He had a career high 6 strikeouts against the Yankees in his last start, giving up only 2 runs (on a Russel Martin solo homer and a Robinson Cano RBI-double). To be fair, he also gave up a career high 4 walks. The lack of strikeouts this season may be because he is being squeezed on calls, according to Jeff Sullivan's research. Unfortunately Alvarez and the Blue Jays were not awarded a win as Aaron Loup and Jason Frasor combined to allow a game-winning grand slam. The Blue Jays' record with Alvarez on the hill is just 5-13, actually worse than Boston's record with Lester pitching.
|2012 - Henderson Alvarez||5-7||18||18||1||1||0||0||113.1||129||60||54||18||27||42||4.29||1.38|
I would imagine that the only two bullpen pitchers that would be unavailable today would be Darren Oliver (who has thrown two days in a row) and J.A. Happ (a starter who might not be used to pitching back-to-back days). Casey Janssen was not used last night thanks to Colby Rasmus' RBI fielder's choice in the top of the 9th, so he will ready to close the game should there be a need.
|TORONTO BLUE JAYS||BOSTON RED SOX|
|Brett Lawrie - 3B||Jacoby Ellsbury - CF|
|Yunel Escobar - SS||Daniel Nava - LF|
|Colby Rasmus - CF||Dustin Pedroia - 2B|
|Edwin Encarnacion - 1B||Adrian Gonzalez - 1B|
|J.P. Arencibia - DH||Cody Ross - DH|
|Rajai Davis - RF||Jarrod Saltalamacchia - C|
|Travis Snider - LF||Ryan Sweeney - RF|
|Jeff Mathis - C||Mike Aviles - SS|
|Omar Vizquel - 2B||Nick Punto - 3B|
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