Mon Jul 15 3:10am ET
The Boston Red Sox begin a key stretch of games within their division when they host the Toronto Blue Jays for the start of a four-game series Monday.
Boston will play its next 21 games against its American League East counterparts. Eight of those games will come against the first-place New York Yankees and six against the second-place Tampa Bay Rays, whom they trail by 10 and four games, respectively, in the division standings.
Right-hander Rick Porcello (6-7, 5.33 ERA) gets the nod in the opener against the Jays. Toronto will counter with rookie righty Trent Thornton (3-6, 4.85).
Boston and Toronto met 12 times in the first half of the season, with the Red Sox winning seven. They enter Monday's contest having dropped two straight to the Los Angeles Dodgers following a five-game winning streak.
The Red Sox lost 7-4 in 12 innings in Sunday's finale, failing to capitalize on several scoring chances in the late innings to seize victory. After tying the score in the eighth on back-to-back home runs by Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez, Boston stranded the winning run in scoring position in each of the ninth, 10th and 11th innings.
In the 11th, Jackie Bradley Jr. led off with a double but was thrown out at third on a fielder's choice grounder by Marco Hernandez. After the game, he admitted he "messed up" on the play, which he misjudged.
"Just a mistake, and he knows it," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "He's one of the best baserunners we have."
Bogaerts' blast marked his third straight game with a homer and fourth in his past five contests.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, dropped two of three to the Yankees in New York and are 3-6 in their last nine games.
Toronto's offense was held to two runs or fewer for the fifth time in its last six games in losing 4-2 in a Sunday matinee. Randal Grichuk and Eric Sogard each hit solo home runs in the fifth inning of the defeat.
After the game, the Blue Jays optioned first baseman Rowdy Tellez to Triple-A Buffalo. Tellez, who impressed in his short time in the majors last season, is hitting .227 with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs in 78 games this year.
"It's one of those things that happens when you're struggling," Tellez said. "It's my time to go down there and better myself and polish off my game and get back to the player that I was. I'm taking this as a learning experience and just going to use it to fuel the fire."
Porcello enters Monday's matchup coming off a win, though he gave up six runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Detroit Tigers on July 6. He has allowed 17 runs in his last 12 innings, a stretch that includes five runs served up to the Blue Jays in six innings on June 23.
In his first start against Toronto this year, Porcello allowed just one run over six innings. Lifetime, he is 10-12 with a 5.47 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) against the Jays.
Thornton comes in having shut out the Baltimore Orioles over six strong innings his last time out. That came after a disastrous performance against the Red Sox on July 2, when he was torched for seven runs on 11 hits in 2 2/3 innings.
In his first career start against Boston last month, Thornton gave up just two runs over 6 1/3 innings at Fenway Park.
--Field Level Media