The Red Sox will send Chris Sale to the ridge on Saturday to face left-hander Francisco Liriano on Canada Day in a matinee match at Rogers Center.
Sale has been the battlehorse they expected in Boston and has a pace that would exceed their maximum number of innings pitches and strikeouts in a year. He has thrown six innings or more in all but one out, and manager John Farrell has highlighted the impact he has had on the rotation even when he does not pitch.
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“I think what you see is what you do every five, six days on the mound – and we’ve started seeing it with other guys too,” Farrell said. “I think if you see Drew Pomeranz right now, maybe he has found his rhythm. I’m sure that when you see the conversations he has with Chris when he does not pitch, he’s brought significant benefits.”
Liriano also brings an electric repertoire from his left arm, but the veteran has been inconsistent with his control. His average five-for-nine ticket has made him unable to pitch deep in the games, but he looked solid in his last time against Kansas City, when he limited the Royals to two runs in six legs.
The Toronto offense has been battling multiple inconsistencies. Between several slumps and injuries – Troy Tulowitzki went through both situations – the Blue Jays started the weekend ranked 26th in runs scored despite the power they have in their bats.
What you need to know about this game:
• Liriano’s slider continues to be his best option, but his straight has been a different story. The two-seater, which throws with the same regularity as its slider, has been batted to a batting average of .304 and .580 of OPS. The four-seals hit .346 and .962 respectively, and the eight homers he has allowed have been before those two pitches.
• Compassionate Xander Bogaerts had been in the starting lineup with the Red Sox since April 22, a period of 62 straight games, before receiving a free Friday night. He will be back in the lineup on Saturday.
• Although the Blue Jays occupy the last place in the American East, Farrell knows how dangerous they can be.
“It’s a dangerous lineup. We know their offense is built to work around the home run,” Farrell said. “They score a lot of runs with home runs, you can never rule them out, once you’re at full strength with your pitchers, they have a good rotation.”