The Blue Jays and Red Sox continue their three-game set in an afternoon affair at Rogers Centre on Saturday after Boston took the series opener on Friday night.
Both teams are tied at the bottom of the American League East standings, but in a division where the separation from the top is only three games, it means little in the overall picture.
Toronto and Boston will both avoid the top two starters in each other's rotation for this series, and with the way the two teams have been swinging the bat, it could lead to an offensive show in Toronto over the weekend.
The Rangers are the only team in the AL that had scored more runs than the Red Sox and Blue Jays this season. For Boston, the club will gladly take the production it's gotten out of a lineup that has been missing some key members.
The Red Sox have been without Jacoby Ellsbury -- the runner-up in the American League MVP race last season -- for much of the season and have also seen other potent players fighting the injury bug, such as Kevin Youkilis, who landed on the disabled list at the beginning of the month with a lower back strain. Boston also got off to a slow start for the second consecutive season, but it's not a batting order that Blue Jays manager John Farrell is about to take lightly.
"Based on what we saw, and this was the opening series at home, it's a little bit more of a mixed group," Farrell said when describing Boston's lineup from years past. "There are some aggressive hitters in this lineup, but I don't think you can necessarily say that they don't have quality at-bats. So some guys' tendencies might be a little bit more aggressive early in the count than has been the case with some other guys on the roster in the last couple years."
Saturday's pitching matchup will feature Kyle Drabek of the Blue Jays going up against Felix Doubront, who has been a pleasant surprise for Boston this year.
Doubront entered the season with 35 1/3 innings under his belt and only three starts at the Major League level, but the 24-year-old has turned in a number of impressive performances.
The Venezuela native is 5-2 with a 3.86 ERA and has allowed two runs or fewer in six of his 10 starts, including his last outing, when he stifled the Tigers over six innings to earn the victory. The lefty, who received a no-decision in his first start of the year, against Toronto, has shown off his swing-and-miss stuff, averaging 9.48 strikeouts per nine innings, which is among the top 10 in the Majors.
"Every outing I'm learning more how to approach the hitters, and today I think I was more focused on throwing the ball for strikes and getting the hitters out quickly," Doubront said following his last start. "I was throwing the ball where I wanted, and my offspeed pitch was working pretty good."
Drabek, meanwhile, is coming off his worst outing of the season and has struggled with his command after an impressive start to the year.
The 24-year-old surrendered a career-high nine runs to the Rangers to fall to 4-5 on the season. As a result, his ERA rose to 4.55. Drabek had a rough month altogether, as his ERA was 7.11 over five starts after posting a 2.40 ERA over five outings in April.
Blue Jays: Rasmus' adjustments paying off
Colby Rasmus' season did not get off to a good start, and his April/May splits might not accurately reflect how much he turned it around toward the end of the month.
Rasmus sat for back-to-back games against the Mets on May 18 and 19, as Farrell wanted to give him some days to figure things out. The center fielder was hitting just .203 when he sat the first game, and while his average is only up to .236, he has been on a tear ever since.
He hit .333 over his last 10 games of May, with three home runs and five doubles, and finished the month on a seven-game hit streak, which he extended to eight in Friday's loss. The success, according to Farrell, is going back to what worked best for him in the past.
"Swinging with more confidence," Farrell said. "Maybe a return to his understanding of what makes him best. He moved up on the plate and became a little bit more aggressive to the pull side, which has eliminated some of the thought.
"This was the type of hitter he was when he was coming up in the Minor Leagues. He's gone back to a comfort zone with what he's been accustomed to."
Jose Bautista was named the Blue Jays' Honda Player of the Month for May by the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America after hitting nine home runs and collecting a team-leading 22 RBIs.
Bautista received every first-place vote except for one, which was captured by right-handed pitcher Brandon Morrow.
Red Sox: Pedroia still out
Dustin Pedroia sat out Friday's series opener against the Blue Jays, as he continues to battle a torn abductor muscle in his right thumb.
The former MVP hasn't played since Monday, and because the Red Sox have not put him on the DL, they are playing shorthanded in his absence. A decision could be made on his status soon.
"We have a plan, [but] we don't want to put the plan in until we need to," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "I suspect before the weekend is over there will be another infielder, but maybe not."
Pedroia is batting .295 with five homers and 21 RBIs.
David Ortiz hit his 391st career home run against Blue Jays starter Henderson Alvarez on Friday. The slugger moved into sole possession of 54th place on the all-time home run list.
The season series between Toronto and Boston is tied at two games apiece, with 14 more to be played.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.