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Blue Jays Go For 9th Straight Win Friday In Boston
The Toronto Blue Jays have the longest postseason drought in the majors and maybe they don't have enough pitching right now to end that. But the Jays are killing the ball right now, leading the majors in runs and the American League in run differential, and take a season-high eight-game winning streak into Fenway Park for Game 1 of their AL East series on Friday. But Boston is a -120 favorite at BetOnline with a total of 9.
Jays Nearing AL East Lead
Toronto, which was off Thrusday, beat the visiting Marlins 7-2 for win No. 8 in a row on Wednesday. Justin Smoak hit one of four Blue Jays homers and Scott Copeland won in his first major league start. Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Jose Reyes also homered for the Blue Jays (31-30), who moved above .500 for the first time since May 19 (16-15). Toronto is on its longest winning run since a nine-game streak from May 20-28 last year. Toronto has outscored opponents 57-21 during its current streak.
The only negative from Wednesday was that Dioner Navarro pinch hit for Edwin Encarnacion in the eighth after Encarnacion's sore left shoulder flared up on him. "We don't think it's a big deal," said Manager John Gibbons. Encarnacion sat out Sunday and Monday after getting a cortisone shot.
How's this for statistic: the Jays have won their past 18 games without a save, a streak matched by one other team over the last 35 years. The Red Sox had a 20-win save-less streak in 1987. The last major league team to win eight consecutive games without a pitcher picking up a save was the Expos in April 1996. The Jays are 18-16 since closer Brett Cecil (or anyone else on the team) last picked up a save. 14 of those 16 losses have included saves by the opposition.
A total of 14 of the 18 wins came by four or more runs, with three of the remaining four being decided in the Jays’ final at-bat. The only real chance for a save was on the May 29 game against the Twins, when the Jays scored twice in the top of the ninth to take a 6-4 lead. Under normal circumstances, that would have been time for Cecil. Manager John Gibbons, however, decided to let Mark Buehrle finish it.
Drew Hutchison gets the ball for the Blue Jays as they begin their five-game road trip following an off-day Thursday. Hutchison owns a 5-1 record with a 4.91 ERA in 12 starts this season. The right-hander has allowed five earned runs over his last three starts, while walking only a single batter. He boasts the best run support among Blue Jays pitchers, averaging 6.7 per game. Hutchison is 3-1 with a 5.34 ERA in six career starts against the Red Sox. He earned the victory the last time he faced them, going five innings while allowing one earned run on seven hits on May 9.
For Boston it's Joe Kelly, who's looking for back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Kelly (2-4, 5.40 ERA) won his first start of the season and went a stretch of 10 games before registering another victory, which came his last time out against the A's. Kelly has given up two earned runs or fewer in four of his past five starts, but he only has one win to show for it. He took the loss the last time he faced the Blue Jays, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing six earned runs on four hits.
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Two unbeatens enter the octagon on Sept. 26 at UFC 253 with the UFC world middleweight championship belt on the line. Israel Adesanya (19-0) puts his title up for grabs against Brazilian Paulo Costa, who is 13-0. The Nigerian-born Adesanya, who fights out of New Zealand, holds a height (1.93m-1.85m) and a reach (203.2-182.9) advantage over Costa. In terms of age, Costa, 29, is two years younger than Adesanya, 31.