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MLB: Red Sox, Jays to conclude shortened AL East series

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The Boston Red Sox and their shuffled lineup will be out to sweep the host Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night in what has been reduced to a two-game series in Buffalo.

The new-look lineup was a success Monday night when the Red Sox won the opener 13-4.

The same lineup, with rookie Jarren Duran batting second and J.D. Martinez and Alex Verdugo batting fifth and sixth respectively, was posted for the game Tuesday before a postponement because of thunderstorms.

Duran made the move pay off with his first major league home run, a two-run blast that started the scoring in an eight-run first inning on Monday.

“We made a lineup change and they made me look good,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.

“He just said that he was going to try some things out, moving pieces around,” Duran said. “Who knows if I will stay there or not, but wherever AC wants to put me, I’m going to do the best I can.”

Martinez, who usually bats third, was 4-for-4 with a walk, and Verdugo, who has been hitting second, had three walks in going 0-for-2.

The inspiration came to Cora during Boston’s 9-1 loss to the Yankees in New York on Sunday.

“In the middle of the game, I wrote it down,” Cora said. “We haven’t been great offensively since we went to Oakland (July 2-4). I just felt like moving people around would relax a few guys, and I think the key also is getting those two guys in front of J.D. He’s an RBI machine, and it just so happens he’s been doing a good job throughout the season.”

The postponed game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Aug. 7 at Toronto. The series finale on Wednesday will be the Blue Jays’ final home game played in Buffalo. They have not played at Rogers Centre since 2019 because of COVID-19 restrictions. They will be allowed to return to Toronto on July 30.

Right-hander Garrett Richards (5-5, 4.91 ERA) will start for Boston, with left-hander Robbie Ray (8-4, 2.93) going for Toronto.

Richards is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts against the Blue Jays this season. He is 3-5 with a 5.26 ERA in 11 career games (nine starts) against them.

Ray won his only start this season against Boston. On June 13, he allowed three earned runs, four hits and three walks while striking out 10 in six innings. In three career appearances (two starts) against the Red Sox, he is 1-0 with a 5.91 ERA.

Boston leads the American League East, seven games ahead of Toronto, which is tied for third place. The teams meet nine more times through Aug. 8, so this series was considered an opportunity for Toronto.

“You know me: I don’t put too much talk on one series,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “We’ve got too many games to go. Any time you play your division, that’s how it goes. They’re all big games, but I’m not going to put much stock in (two) games. Hopefully, we start gaining some ground.”

Toronto left-hander Anthony Kay, who allowed five runs in 1 1/3 innings Monday, was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday. Catcher Alejandro Kirk (left hip flexor strain) was reinstated from the 60-day injured list and optioned to Triple-A. Right-hander T.J. Zeuch was designated for assignment.

–Field Level Media

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