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Red Sox on a roll heading into huge three-game series in Toronto

Sports Final: Red Sox are absolutely rolling right now
Sports Final: Red Sox are absolutely rolling right now 04:32

BOSTON -- The Red Sox have won seven straight, which is just a fraction of the ridiculous run they've been on since mid-May. Boston's 29-10 record over the last six weeks has catapulted the team into second place in the highly competitive AL East.

With the Yankees running away with the best record in the game, second place in the division will likely come down to a three-way battle between the Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and Toronto Blue Jays. The Red Sox own a 1.5 game lead over both of those divisional counterparts heading into Monday night, when Boston begins a three-game set north of the border in Toronto.

It's a huge series for Boston, as the Red Sox haven't had the best of luck against the Jays recently. The Blue Jays won three of four over the Red Sox in Toronto in April, and have won six of the last eight meetings at Rogers Centre going back to last season. They also took two of three in Boston in April, bringing a 5-2 record against the Red Sox into this week's series.

Both teams are much, much different than the last time they met, however. The Red Sox have won seven straight series, four of which came away from Fenway Park. The Blue Jays have lost three straight series, and are just 10-12 since winning eight straight at the end of May.

Both teams bring spectacular offenses to the series. The Red Sox lead the AL with a .261 batting average, while the Jays are second at .255. Boston is first in the AL with 175 doubles, while Toronto is second with 137. The Jays have mashed 95 homers, good for third in the AL, while the Red Sox are ninth with 70 dingers.

Boston's pitching has at least done well against most of Toronto's big bats. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is hitting just .211 against the Red Sox with just one extra-base hit and two RBIs over six games, while Bo Bichette is hitting .207 with seven strikeouts in 29 at-bats this season. George Springer has eight hits in 24 at-bats, but only one of those hits went for extra bases; a ninth-inning three-run homer two months ago in an eventual Jays win in Toronto.

The Red Sox have yet to leave the yard against the Blue Jays this season. Rafael Devers -- who leads the team with a .334 average, 25 doubles and 17 homers -- has driven in just one run against Toronto. The other two mashers in the Boston lineup are hitting the Blue Jays well this season, with Xander Bogaerts 13-for-26 and J.D. Martinez hitting .353, but they have driven in just five runs against Toronto.

Here are the pitching matchups for this week's three-game set in Toronto: 

Monday, June 27: Connor Seabold (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Kevin Gausman (5-6, 3.19 ERA)
Tuesday, June 28: Michael Wacha (6-1, 2.34) vs. Ross Stripling (4-2, 3.08)
Wednesday, June 29: Nick Pivetta (8-5, 3.25) vs. Alek Monoah (9-2, 2.05)

The Red Sox will have a decision to make at the end of games if they own a lead. Closer Tanner Houck isn't with the team due to his vaccination status, which means Alex Cora will have to turn to someone else to close games out over the next three nights. John Schreiber is the likeliest candidate to get that call, though he may be used in high pressure situations earlier in games. Matt Strahm and Hansel Robles could get the ball in the ninth for Boston.

Boston will also be without outfielder Jarren Duran because of his vaccination status, leaving the Red Sox without one of the hottest bats in the lineup. He's been on fire since his call-up at the beginning of the month, hitting .333 with five doubles and eight runs scored over 12 games. Duran was huge out of the leadoff spot in place of the injured Enrique Hernandez, but now the Sox have to fill another void atop their order.

But the Red Sox have loved this sort of adversity over the last six weeks, and have passed every test put in front of them over the stretch. The three-game set in Toronto is Boston's chance to show that they are indeed the second-best team in the packed AL East, and exorcise some of their demons in Canada.

Brimming with confidence after the team's three-game sweep of the Guardians, Cora said everyone is ready for the tough task ahead.

"Toronto's one of the big boys in the division," the skipper said Sunday. "They've been playing well. It's going to be a challenge, but we're ready for it."

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