The Blue Jays are 7-17 against teams within their own division and 38-20 against all other teams
Toronto is scheduled to start right-hander Jose Berrios (8-5, 3.60 ERA) in the opener. In 11 career starts against the Red Sox, he is 1-5 with a 4.15 ERA. He got a no-decision at Boston on May 1, when he gave up five runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings of his team's 6-5 loss
The Red Sox are scheduled to start James Paxton (3-1, 3.19). The left-hander is 5-3 with a 4.53 ERA in 10 career starts against Toronto
The Blue Jays have won four of the first six games of their nine-game homestand after defeating the San Francisco Giants 2-1 on Thursday
Chris Bassitt struck out a career-best 12 in six scoreless innings to earn the victory in that game. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s two-run home run in the sixth provided all of Toronto's scoring.
The Blue Jays sit in fourth place in the AL East but hope to make up ground
"The goal is always to win the division," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said Wednesday. "I know the standings are what they are and it's June 28, (but) the goal for this team this year is to not just play better, but to get into the postseason and make a deep run
"I don't think that's going to change no matter what the calendar says or the standings say until you are mathematically eliminated to do one thing or another."
Schneider added, "(The division) didn't get away from us. It's June. Tampa Bay got off to a historically good start. I don't think anyone expected the team to run off 13 in a row to start the year. I think you see them right now going the other way a little bit. That's going to happen. Bullpens are going to get worn out and guys aren't going to be hitting .330 and doing a ton of damage the whole year."
Boston swept the visiting Blue Jays in a four-game series from May 1-4, but the Red Sox are struggling now. They have lost five in a row after the visiting Miami Marlins completed a three-game sweep Thursday with a 2-0 victory. Boston starter Brayan Bello had his no-hit bid end in the eighth inning and wound up with a hard-luck loss
"There's days when you're going to score runs," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "There's days you're going to give it up. And today we pitched well. We didn't hit.
Overall, the Red Sox have been hampered by poor defense, particularly in the middle infield
The Sox have used 14 second base/shortstop combinations this season, none for more than five consecutive games. Christian Arroyo, Enmanuel Valdez, Enrique Hernandez, Pablo Reyes and Yu Chang have started at second base, and Hernandez, Reyes, Chang, David Hamilton, Arroyo and Bobby Dalbec have started at short.
"You've got to make sure everybody works together," Cora said. "It's our job to prepare them for the game. The more reps they get, the better it is. Obviously, it's hard in that aspect (with the lineup changes) ...
"Obviously we have struggled. I don't know what can happen. We trusted these guys. ... This is where we're at. We've just got to keep pushing them."
Toronto reinstated catcher Alejandro Kirk (left hand laceration) from the injured list Thursday and optioned Tyler Heineman to Triple-A Buffalo.
Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (back spasms) did not play for the third straight game Thursday
--Field Level Media