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Game #24 Preview: Sale vs Estrada

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Red Sox (18-5) vs Blue Jays (14-9)

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

After being unable to hold onto the lead last night, the Blue Jays go for the series win against the Red Sox tonight. First pitch is at 7:07 ET.

Blue Jays’ Starter

Marco Estrada, happily out of the Mickey Mouse confines of Yankee Stadium, makes his 5th start of the season. Last Friday in New York, Estrada went 5 innings, giving up 5 runs on 7 hits, including 3 home runs. The Home Runs off Estrada went 352 ft, 375 ft, and 362 ft. That first home run truly was a Yankee Stadium special, as it landed about 2 rows over the right field fence. But the Jays won anyway, as this was Gurriel’s first game where he, along with Teoscar, knocked in 3 through a pretty fun game.

On the season, Estrada has struggled, mostly because of the long ball. He has a 5.32 ERA across his 22 innings, and has gotten there by allowing 6 home runs. Because he allows so many fly balls, that 16.7% HR/FB rate isn’t wildly out of control either. But he has also faced the Yankees twice, who have hit 5 home runs against him (specifically Tyler Austin, who has 3). So going forward against non-Tyler Austins, he should still be the Marco we love.

Red Sox’ Pitcher

The left handed Ace of Aces Chris Sale gets the start today. After coming over to the Red Sox just over a year ago, Sale has somehow bumped his strikeout rate even further while keeping his impressively low walk total about the same. With the White Sox, he had a career 10.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9, but now that he has changed the colour of his Sox to Red, he has put up an elite-reliever like 12.9 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. Imagine facing an effective Roberto Osuna for 7 or 8 innings at a time.

The Blue Jays faced him 4 times last year. The first three times were much the same - 22 shutout innings total, 35 strikeouts with 11 hits and a pair of walks. However, something special happened in his late September start against the Jays, the only one he would make at Fenway vs Toronto. The Blue Jays touched him up for 5 runs on 8 hits over 5 innings, launching 4 home runs into the Fenway night. Kendrys Morales, Teoscar Hernandez and Josh Donaldson (x2) got in on the fun.

Really going to miss Josh in this one.

Blue Jays’ Lineup

MVP candidate Luke Maile will be getting the start behind the plate tonight.

Steve Pearce should probably get the start somewhere, and given the Morales hit that home run off Sale (he actually has 3 career, and a .932 OPS), he’s probably in the lineup again too. Today might be the day that we see Smoak sit though, as it would be a bad idea to not have Grichuk in the outfield with Estrada starting.

I would also give Solarte the night off against a super tough lefty, going with Gurriel at 3B, but I can’t see it.

Red Sox’ Lineup

They surprised me yesterday by going with pretty much Tuesday’s lineup, save for Christian Vazquez in for Sandy Leon. I think they go back to Vazquez again today, as he seems to get the start against the righties.

I’m a bit surprised that we haven’t seen Mitch Moreland or Tzu-Wei Lin yet. But with the way Brock Holt is hitting, we’re not likely to see Lin. Moreland might get the start today as they give an outfielder the day off while moving JD Martinez out to LF.

Yesterday’s Heroes

Sir Didi Gregorius had the big bat yesterday, going 3-3 with a home run and a pair of walks. His 9 HR make him second to Mike Trout in all of baseball, and he leapfrogged Trout to take over the top spot on the early season fWAR leaderboard.

Francisco Cervelli of the Pirates gets the WPA King moniker. He had 4 different plays in the first game of their double header against the Tigers that gave him at least .070 WPA. A 3rd inning 2 out, 3 run home run for .275 WPA, a 5th inning RBI single for .105 WPA, a 7th inning walk for .074 WPA, and an 8th inning 2 out, 2 run double for .085 WPA. That gave him a total of .511 for the game, and his Pirates still lost 13-10.

Pitcher of the Day goes to Jon Gray of the Rockies, who went 6 shutout innings, striking out 11 and walking 1 as his Rockies went on to beat the Padres 5-2.

Milestone Watch

Kevin Pillar still sits 2 stolen bases short of Jose Reyes and Raul Mondesi for 19th all-time on the Blue Jays steal list.

Marco Estrada is 2 strikeouts away from 1000 for his career, so he should get that in the early innings tonight. If he gets all the way up to 10, he’ll have 500 for his Blue Jays career, but even that second strikeout of the game moves him past Luis Leal and into the top 20 all-time for Blue Jays.

Find the Link

Find the link between Sale and the career strikeout leader for pitchers.