TORONTO -- Facing one of the hottest left-handed starters in the Major Leagues on Thursday night, Red Sox manager Terry Francona wrote out a lineup that didn't include left-handed-hitting Adrian Gonzalez or Carl Crawford.
The unfavorable matchup against Blue Jays southpaw Ricky Romero -- Gonzalez is 1-for-6 against him, while Crawford is 2-for-17 -- was just a minor reason Francona rested two of his regulars.
The Red Sox won't land in Tampa until the wee hours of Friday morning in advance of their weekend series against the Rays. Some other factors went into the decision as well.
"We're going to have a late arrival," said Francona. "When you give 'em a day off, you'd like to pick a day where, maybe give it against a guy maybe they don't see the ball or something. We went to Gonzi last night, and he was like, 'Yeah, I'm OK with that.' When he says that, it will be good for him."
In regard to Crawford, Francona mentioned giving him a break in the middle of a road trip that is being played entirely on turf.
"Just try to balance getting rest and production and try to do it where it fits," Francona said. "I feel like we have a decent batting order today."
Per usual, Jacoby Ellsbury led off. Francona's lineup also had Marco Scutaro batting second and playing short, followed by Dustin Pedroia in the third spot and David Ortiz at cleanup.
Kevin Youkilis moved across the diamond and started at first base for the fifth time this season. Jed Lowrie was back in the lineup for the first time since tweaking his left shoulder on Saturday, playing third base. Jason Varitek got the nod behind the plate. Josh Reddick was in right field, followed by left fielder Darnell McDonald.
Sox slump coincides with Pedroia's struggles
TORONTO -- As Dustin Pedroia goes, so go the Red Sox? That is probably a lot to put on any one player. But with Pedroia in a five-game slump, Boston has at times looked like a team without its motor.
With Pedroia going 1-for-23, the Red Sox have lost four out of five.
Pedroia had a golden opportunity to erase all his woes with one big swing Thursday, when he came to the plate in the top of the ninth with two on and two outs and the Red Sox trailing by three runs. Instead, he struck out to end Boston's 7-4 loss.
"He's probably trying a little too hard," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He feels so much responsibility when we're not clicking to do it by himself. That's one of the characteristics we love about him. When he doesn't get hits -- and I want him to get hits -- we don't worry about him very much."
In typical Pedroia fashion, he made no excuses for the way he's hit -- or not hit -- of late.
"I've pretty much had five [bad] games," Pedroia said. "That's basically it."
Is this maybe one of those situations where Pedroia feels better than the results?
"Not really," Pedroia said. "I've been swinging the bat [poorly] for five games. There will be a time where I swing the bat for five games where I won't get out. That's how it happens."
Nobody in the Red Sox's clubhouse would be surprised if Pedroia had an offensive surge as early as this weekend against the Rays.
"Pedey will be all right," said Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. "He's a machine who wants to produce every day, but everybody has their ups and downs they have to deal with. I think even though he's going through some tough times, he's having a great season. He'll come out, get a few hits and there goes Pedey once again."
Francona and Co. looking at rotation options
TORONTO -- Tim Wakefield's eighth crack at career win No. 200 is expected to come on Tuesday at Fenway Park, when the Red Sox host the Toronto Blue Jays for the start of a 10-game homestand.
"Most likely it will be [John Lackey] the next day," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We do have the ability to see how guys bounce back from their outings before we have to make a decision. With an off-day and with [Kyle] Weiland, [Andrew] Miller, things like that, it's kind of in pencil."
The other thing Francona and the coaching staff is in the middle of determining is when Erik Bedard, who was skipped this turn around so he could rest his left knee, will be slotted back in. The same goes for Josh Beckett, who sprained his right ankle on Monday.
Beckett will be re-evaluated over the weekend. By that time, the Sox will probably also get a better sense of where Bedard is at.
Bruised knee hampering Red Sox's Jackson
TORONTO -- If Conor Jackson had been healthy, he most likely would have started on Thursday night against tough Blue Jays lefty Ricky Romero.
But the right-handed-hitting outfielder, acquired last week by the Red Sox, is still sore from a collision he had with the right-field wall at Fenway Park on Saturday.
While several of his body parts were sore, the injury that is keeping Jackson off the field is a contusion of his left knee.
"He's still a little sore -- we're trying to get him over the hump," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He's done the stuff, the tee work, the hitting, and we're trying to get him available for the game. We don't know if we're there yet."