The Red Sox ended a three-game losing streak Friday on Jon Lester's one-hit shutout, and will send their most dominant starter to the mound in Clay Buchholz as they try to build some momentum against the Blue Jays on Saturday at Fenway Park.
In his last outing however, Buchholz endured his toughest start of the season versus the Twins.
After winning his first six starts, the right-hander allowed four earned runs in six innings, giving up seven hits, two walks, and striking out nine. He had given up only five runs in his previous six appearances.
"For the most part, I felt good," Buchholz said. "I felt good with the pitches. I had some long at-bats there, a lot of foul balls. First inning, obviously, drew the pitch count up to where you don't want it to be."
Despite the numbers, Red Sox manager John Farrell liked what he saw from his No. 2 starter.
"His overall stuff was probably as good as he's had in any start this year," Farrell said. "In some cases, I thought he was even more powerful tonight. High number of strikeouts. He worked deep into the game. It was his highest pitch count  this year."
Strangely, Buchholz's dominance is coming despite less velocity on his cutter, but Farrell doesn't think that's an issue.
"I think the swing and miss reaction by the hitters tells you more than anything. And it's clear that he's got very good stuff," Farrell said about the righty starter, who has 56 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings .
He'll face a challenge against a Toronto offense that seems to finally be finding its legs, Friday's shutout notwithstanding.
"We're capable of scoring a lot of runs," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We started out slowly for the most part. [For] most of the guys, it's picked up a little bit, but we're still not where we think it's going to end up. ... In the American League, especially in our division, you're going to give up runs, you're going to give up home runs. What you've got to do some nights, you've got to slug it out."
The Blue Jays are second in the AL in home runs with 45, and have scored 32 runs in their last six games.
Taking the mound for Toronto will be the scuffling Mark Buehrle, who continues to fall victim to the long ball.
Buehrle leads the league with 11 home runs allowed, and gave up a pair of them against the Rays in his last start, in what was his toughest outing of the year.
The 34-year-old lefty allowed seven earned runs in six innings, with all the damage coming in the third, when he was undone by Evan Longoria's grand slam and a two-run homer by Luke Scott.
"It's frustrating; I'm not doing much to help this team win right now," Buehrle said after his last start.
In his last three outings, the lefty has allowed 17 earned runs in 18 innings and has a 7.02 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP this season.
A member of the blockbuster trade with the Marlins, Buehrle will hope to rebound in hopes of ending Toronto's three-game skid.
Blue Jays: Club hopeful Morrow will be ready Sunday
• Ramon Ortiz made a spot start on Friday because of Brandon Morrow's back spasms.
The Blue Jays remain hopeful that Morrow will make his start in the series finale Sunday, but he stayed in Florida to be evaluated. His status won't be known until closer to game day.
"He was throwing his bullpen [session] and had muscle spasms in his upper back and the next day it moved up towards his neck," Gibbons said. "Just have to get that out of there."
Morrow is 1-2 with a 4.69 ERA in seven starts. He has struck out 34 and walked 17 in 40 1/3 innings as the club's No. 2 starter.
Red Sox: Hanrahan mulling surgery; Bailey on the mend
• Closer Joel Hanrahan's visit to Dr. James Andrews came back with the news that the Red Sox brass was fearing -- damage to the flexor muscle tendon in his right forearm.
Hanrahan, who was on his way back from Alabama on Friday, will discuss his options with the team in the near future, with season-ending surgery a possibility.
"In situations like this, it's not uncommon for the player to make the final decision," Farrell said. "Certainly it's his career, it's his arm."
The other option would be to six weeks of rest and rehabilitation, and will keep him inactive for the next six weeks.
The good news for Boston is that Andrew Bailey is getting closer to his return. Bailey threw from 105 feet on Friday with no pain.
• This will be Buchholz's second start against the Blue Jays this year. Last time against Toronto, he pitched seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts. But it was that performance that began the accusations the Red Sox righty was doctoring the baseball.
• In seven meetings this season, the Blue Jays have been outscored, 39-20, all but one played at Rogers Centre. They have been outhomered, 16-7. In those matchups, Toronto's pitchers have a 6.00 ERA.
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.