Boston Red Sox

A Weekend of Opportunity

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A Weekend of Opportunity

This weekend at Fenway, the Red Sox host to the last place Toronto Blue Jays.

Of course, that the Jays are in last place at this stage of the season means next to nothing especially since they're only two and a half games behind Boston but after a rough few months, it's nice that we can refer to another team being in last place. Go ahead. Give a try.

The last place Toronto Blue Jays!

See? A lot of fun.

But to be honest, last place is the least of Toronto's problems right now. In the last month, they've lost two starting pitchers: Brandon Morrow (until August) and Kyle Drabek (for the season). In the last week, they've lost third baseman (and the owner of one of the dumbest tattoos in baseball) Brett Lawrie to a calf injury and slugger Jose Bautista to a wrist injury.

So, what do you think? Is this when the Sox finally get over the hump? Will they feast on the broken Jays and finally leave .500 in their dust, or will we reconvene on Monday, having the same tired conversation?

They're inconsistent! They're average! Trade the whole team! Bring up everyone from Pawtucket!

Man, I hope not. Not sure if I can play that game anymore. I'm sick of drama. I'm ready for baseball. We all are. We all love what this team has given us since the All-Star Break, but it's only natural to demand more. It's almost August. Nearly everyone's healthy. Excuses are over, and it's time to win.

And wouldn't you know, there are two guys in that clubhouse who currently find themselves in prime position to take Boston to the next level.

Josh Beckett, who has one win since May, will be on the mound tonight. Jon Lester, who hasn't won all month, takes the bump on Sunday. With everything clicking around them, the Sox two embattled starters are poised to both reaffirm their dominance and keep the Sox rolling.

And what better target than the last place Blue Jays.

Yup. That phrase still sounds much better in front of another team's name.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.