07/08/10 1:09 AM ET
Injury-depleted Red Sox seek rebound
By Didier Morais / MLB.com
Riding a four-game losing streak, the injury-depleted Red Sox will enjoy Thursday's off-day in Toronto and try to regroup before they close out the first half of the regular season.
Entering play Monday, the Red Sox found themselves trailing the Yankees by 1 1/2 games in the American League East. But when Boston departed Tropicana Field on Wednesday night following a series-sweeping 6-4 loss to Tampa Bay, the Sox were in third place and 4 1/2 games out. They'll enter play Friday five games behind the Yankees.
"This was a disappointing three days as far as getting wins," said manager Terry Francona. "We ask our guys to try their best; to do their best. That's exactly what they're doing. We'll get on the plane, regroup and keep battling. This is actually kind of a fun group right now. This wasn't a real fun three days, but this is a fun group to work with. We'll figure it out."
Despite the club's numerous injuries, Boston can take some solace in the fact that it lost all three games to Tampa Bay by just two runs.
The Blue Jays snapped their three-game losing streak on Wednesday, when they rallied for a 6-5 win over the Twins. On Thursday night, they hit five solo homers to claim an 8-1 victory.
Jose Bautista -- a first-time All-Star and the AL leader in home runs -- isn't taking part in this year's State Farm Home Run Derby, but that didn't stop him from taking possession of the AL home run lead with his 22nd homer of the season Wednesday night.
Trailing by a run in the fifth inning, Bautista recorded a two-run inside-the-park home run to help spark Toronto's victory.
"It's odd to take the lead in home runs with an inside-the-park home run," said Blue Jays outfielder Vernon Wells, who will be participating in the Home Run Derby. "I really didn't even know what to do after that. He got a curtain call, and even if he had hit a conventional home run after, it really wouldn't have mattered."
Bautista hit one of the Jays' five homers Thursday, albeit of the conventional variety.
In Friday's series opener, Jon Lester, who is heading to his first All-Star Game, will look to post his team-leading 11th win. Lifetime against Toronto, the left-hander is 5-3 with a 2.71 ERA in 10 starts. On April 28, he allowed just one hit over seven scoreless frames of Boston's 2-0 victory.
Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero suffered the shortest outing of his season on Saturday, giving up a career-worst eight runs in just 2 2/3 innings in a loss to the Yankees. The lefty walked two, struck out three and allowed a grand slam. Romero has one win in his past six starts.
Red Sox; Youkilis edged out by Swisher
Kevin Youkilis' bid to make the American League All-Star team this year fell short. The Yankees' Nick Swisher surpassed the Red Sox's cleanup batter to claim the final roster spot in the 81st Midsummer Classic.
In 81 games this season, Youkilis is hitting .292 with 66 runs, 17 homers, 55 RBIs, a .409 on-base percentage and a .983 OPS. Swisher is hitting .298 with 52 runs, 14 homers, 48 RBIs, a .376 on-base percentage and an .895 OPS.
Blue Jays: Marcum not listening to rumors
Shaun Marcum has listened to the trade rumors. And the pitcher apparently doesn't prefer to leave his beloved Blue Jays for any other opportunity.
"I got drafted by these guys. I want to be loyal to them if they want to be loyal to me as well," Marcum said. "It's someplace I would like to win a championship. ... I've made a lot of good friends here, came up with a lot of guys through the Minor Leagues."
The Red Sox added first baseman Ryan Shealy to the active Major League roster Wednesday from Triple-A Pawtucket and designated infielder Niuman Romero for assignment. ... The Blue Jays' pitching staff leads the AL with 639 strikeouts. ... Boston is 5-1 against Toronto this season.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.