The surging Boston Red Sox will try to extend their seven-game winning streak on Monday night when they visit the stumbling Toronto Blue Jays for the opener of a three-game series.
The Red Sox continued their spectacular June with an 8-3 victory over the host Cleveland Guardians on Sunday afternoon to finish a three-game series sweep.
"It's not easy to do," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "That's a good baseball team, they've been playing great. But we're a different team. We know we're good and we have to keep working. We have to keep working hard for what we're trying to accomplish. We feel good. Now we have to get ready for Toronto."
Boston is 19-4 for the month.
The Blue Jays are 12-12 in June after losing the final two games of their three-game series against the host Milwaukee Brewers. They finished their road trip with a 2-4 record.
In losing 5-4 on Saturday and 10-3 on Sunday, neither Yusei Kikuchi nor Jose Berrios could get out of the third inning of their starts for the Blue Jays.
"At the end of the day, it's pitching," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. "For us to make a run and keep playing well, we need pitching and that hasn't happened in the last couple days. It's tough. It's taxing on the bullpen. The whole road trip was taxing on the bullpen."
Montoyo appreciated the work of Max Castillo, who pitched four scoreless innings in relief on Saturday in his second major league appearance. He allowed a single and two walks while striking out seven.
"He was outstanding," Montoyo said. "He did a great job to try and keep us in the game."
Right-hander Kevin Gausman (5-6, 3.19 ERA) will start for the Blue Jays against the Red Sox for the third time this season on Monday. He is 1-0 with an 0.64 ERA in his first two starts against them this season. In 22 career appearances (17 starts) against Boston, he is 5-8 with a 4.01 ERA.
Right-hander Connor Seabold (0-0 0.00) is expected to be the starter for the Red Sox. It would be his second career major league start and the first this season. He has never faced the Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays are 5-2 this season against the Red Sox but the games were played in April.
"Obviously, they're one of the big boys in the division, they've been playing solid throughout this season and it's going to be a challenge," Cora said. "But we'll be ready for it."
Right-hander Tanner Houck and outfielder Jarren Duran, who are unvaccinated against COVID-19, will be on the restricted list for the series in Toronto because of Canada's vaccine mandate.
Duran was 4-for-5 with two stolen bases on Saturday and was 2-for-5 with a walk on Sunday.
"The dynamic player we envisioned," Cora said. "He's just having fun. Running the bases, being an athlete, hitting the ball the other way, not trying to do too much. This is what we want."
Rob Refsnyder likely will take most of Duran's playing time in Toronto.
Houck is 6-for-6 in save opportunities since being moved into the closer's role. John Schreiber and Matt Strahm will likely be used to close games in Toronto.
Blue Jays center fielder George Springer (right elbow discomfort) returned to the starting lineup Sunday after missing three consecutive games. He was 1-for-4.
--Field Level Media