Martin Perez, Red Sox hope to shut down Blue Jays

MLB

Martin Perez needs a reset. The Boston Red Sox desperately need it from him.

The left-hander will be leaned on when he takes the mound against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon in the third contest of a four-game series. Perez (4-3, 3.88 ERA) was shelled for six runs on six hits and three walks against the Houston Astros in his last start, failing to pitch into the third inning.

It was one in a recent stretch of poor outings from the Red Sox rotation. None of the team’s starters has pitched six innings in Boston’s last eight games, with a combined 8.36 ERA in that span.

The trend continued against the Blue Jays on Saturday, when Nick Pivetta gave up six runs on four homers over five innings in a 7-2 loss.

“We were unable to hold them today, but overall if you think about it, it’s been a bad stretch,” said manager Alex Cora. “I still have confidence, the same way when I came in this year going into spring training. I believe in these guys.”

Despite the funk, Boston had won seven of nine before Saturday’s setback.

Southpaw Robbie Ray (3-2, 3.36) will take the mound for Toronto looking to build on a 13-strikeout performance last time out.

The bats carried the Blue Jays in the second contest of the series after a disappointing 6-5 loss Friday in which they led 5-1 late. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his major league-leading 20th home run, and Cavan Biggio, Marcus Semien and Bo Bichette went deep over a span of four batters in the fifth inning. Reese McGuire added a solo shot in the ninth.

“(Friday) night was a tough loss,” said Biggio. “Definitely a game that we feel like we should have won. A bounce-back win was huge.”

The victory Saturday was Toronto’s second in its last six games. The Blue Jays have been struggling despite Guerrero hitting .424 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 10 games this month.

“If you’re not throwing him strikes, he’ll take the walk,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said of Guerrero, who went 1 for 2, raising his batting average to .338 with 52 RBI.

While Guerrero has thrived in the spotlight, Ray has quietly been enjoying a bounce-back season similar to his 2017 All-Star campaign. The 29-year-old has allowed one run or less in three of his last four starts, including over 6 1/3 innings in his dominant showing against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.

Ray has a 7.71 ERA over 4 2/3 career innings pitched against the Red Sox.

Perez is 2-2 with a 2.20 ERA in seven starts against the Blue Jays. Before his blowup against the Astros, he had held the same Houston team scoreless over 7 2/3 innings a start prior.

Boston has been without Xander Bogaerts the last two games due to a sore left knee. Cora said he won’t rush his star shortstop back.

“If we have to stay away from him (Sunday), we will,” Cora said.

–Field Level Media

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