Red Sox-Blue Jays Preview
By MIKE LIPKA
(AP) -- The Boston Red Sox can at least take consolation in knowing they won't be arriving at Fenway Park empty-handed again.
They'd prefer, however, to salvage a second victory to finish another sour season-opening road trip, something Jon Lester will try to deliver Wednesday in a southpaw showdown against Ricky Romero and the Toronto Blue Jays.
After entering its home opener at 0-6 last year, Boston (1-4) could have been on the brink of a similar situation if not for a late rally in Monday's series opener in Toronto.
The Red Sox couldn't ride the momentum from that 4-2 win, trailing throughout a 7-3 defeat Tuesday. Their bullpen woes continued - Boston's relievers have a 5.89 ERA - and manager Bobby Valentine was upset with his own decisions after inexperienced left-hander Justin Thomas allowed two inherited runners to score before yielding a run of his own during the sixth inning.
"I should have brought in (Matt) Albers there with the bases loaded," the first-year Red Sox skipper said.
"Just a dumb move. I don't like being dumb. I like doing what I'm supposed to do."
Toronto (3-2) took advantage, finishing with seven runs for the third time in as many victories. The Blue Jays did it Tuesday even though Jose Bautista was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts - he's 0 for 8 in the series.
Edwin Encarnacion led the way with his first home run, also adding a single, a walk and two stolen bases while driving in two to boost his total to six RBIs.
"It's good to see Eddie get off to the start that he has so far," manager John Farrell told the Blue Jays' official website. "We're starting to get a couple of more guys involved in the overall offense. We're not anywhere close to where I think we'll be, but we're showing some signs of getting there."
Offense may not come as easily against Lester, who was sharp on opening day. Although Detroit's Justin Verlander outpitched him Thursday, Lester yielded one run in seven innings and avoided a decision when Boston rallied in the ninth before losing 3-2.
"There was a lot I saw that I liked," Valentine said. "Lester was terrific. He did just what he needed to do."
Romero was a footnote in the Blue Jays' opener, which Toronto won 7-4 in 16 innings Thursday in Cleveland after getting its starter off the hook with three runs in the ninth. Romero gave up all of the Indians' runs in the second inning, completing five before the Jays' bullpen pitched 11 scoreless.
Romero was 2-6 with an 8.08 ERA in his first 11 starts against the Red Sox before beating them twice during Boston's collapse in September.
Still, four Red Sox regulars have posted averages of .345 or better in at least 20 at-bats against Romero. David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis have combined to go 37 for 97 (.381) with six homers, 13 doubles and 11 walks.
Lester's results in the series have been much different - especially in Canada. Since 2009, he's 9-2 with a 2.71 ERA in 13 starts against the Blue Jays, going 5-0 with a 1.96 ERA in his last six in Toronto.
The Red Sox, who open their home slate Friday against Tampa Bay, have won the two previous matchups between Romero and Lester by a combined 22-5.
Updated April 11, 2012