Perez back on mound for Red Sox against Blue Jays

The Boston Red Sox are hopeful that veteran Martin Perez can shake off a bothersome blister and continue his dominance of the Toronto Blue Jays when the two teams open a five-game series at Fenway Park on Thursday. The Red Sox took two of three in their first meeting in Boston and the clubs split two games at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field. Perez will face Toronto…

The Boston Red Sox are hopeful that veteran Martin Perez can shake off a

bothersome blister and continue his dominance of the Toronto Blue Jays when

the two teams open a five-game series at Fenway Park on Thursday.

The two American League East rivals will meet for the final time this season.The Red Sox took two of three in their first meeting in Boston and the clubssplit two games at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field.

Perez (2-4, 4.58 ERA) will face Toronto right-hander Taijuan Walker (3-2, 3.27ERA) in Friday’s opener.

Perez was scheduled to start the final game of the series with Atlanta, butwas pushed back a day because of a blister that caused him to struggle in hislast start against Washington on Aug. 28. The blister developed over the firsttwo innings and forced Perez to change his mechanics, particularly on thebreaking ball, with unsatisfactory results. He allowed six runs on eight hitsin four innings against the Nationals.

That was an oddity. Perez has pitched at least five innings in five of hisseven starts and has lived up to his reputation as a workhorse.

“They signed me here for one reason,” Perez said. “That’s what I got, thementality every five days to compete and do my job.”

He’s done very well against the Jays. Perez has made six previous careerstarts against Toronto, going 2-2 with a 2.36 ERA. He was 1-0 with a 0.69 ERAin two starts against the Blue Jays in 2019. He has not faced Toronto thisseason.

The Red Sox could use a lengthy start from Perez to help their strugglingbullpen. The Boston bullpen has a 5.65 ERA (114 earned runs in 181 2/3innings) this season.

Boston could have its hands full with Walker, who will make his second startas a Blue Jay. He earned a win with six scoreless innings against Baltimore onAug. 29, thanks to a deadly fastball-changeup combination.

“I was able to turn my cutter into more of a true slider,” Walker saidafterward. “I really worked hard with that. My curveball, too, just havingmore confidence in it. I’m able to throw it for strikes in any counts.”

In four starts in August, three of them before he was acquired from Seattle,Walker had allowed seven earned runs in 22 2/3 innings (2.78 ERA) with 20strikeouts.

Walker has made only one appearance against Boston in his career. He receivedno decision on June 19, 2016, when he pitched five innings and did not allow arun while with the Mariners. He missed most of the 2018 and 2019 season whilerecovering from Tommy John surgery.

The Red Sox suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves andhave fallen into last place in the division. The Blue Jays have won six of 10and snapped a two-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Miami on Wednesday.

With their win, the Blue Jays improved to 10-7 in one-run games, the most inthe majors this season. Toronto’s Teoscar Hernandez extended his career-longhitting streak to 14 games with a hit on Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

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