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Blue Jays look to continue dominance over Red Sox

Aug 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Matt Chapman (26), first baseman Cavan Biggio (8) and right fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (25) scored on a triple by center fielder George Springer (4) (not pictured) against the Boston Red Sox in the third inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox were working toward a cleaner bill of health.

Then, Tuesday happened.

Pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (right-shoulder inflammation) and first baseman Eric Hosmer (lower-back inflammation) were placed on the injured list before the start of Boston’s three-game series against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.

On top of the Red Sox’s 9-3 loss in the opener, left fielder Tommy Pham and shortstop Xander Bogaerts were removed early due to back spasms.

“Pham (was hurt) in the same spot as (late last week), so we’ll stay away from him,” manager Alex Cora said. “Xander, same deal. He wasn’t moving well. We’ll stay away from him, too.”

As the series continues Wednesday night in Boston, Cora’s message is simple.

“We’ve got to keep going; there are no excuses,” Cora said. “There’s a lot of teams that are playing hurt and good baseball, so it really doesn’t matter. … We’ve got to do a good job this week to gain ground.”

Josh Winckowski returned from Triple-A Worcester to start Tuesday in place of Eovaldi, who was shelved after having his originally scheduled start last Thursday pushed back. Eovaldi missed time in June and July with back issues.

Hosmer hoped to return following Sunday’s MLB Little League Classic, but he was added to the 10-day list and Franchy Cordero was recalled to take his spot in Tuesday’s lineup.

“It got to a point where we’re kind of working backwards a little bit,” Hosmer said. “The best thing is to stop right now and try and get it back to strength, then hopefully we’re back and help this team for a late push as soon as we can.”

Right-hander Brayan Bello (0-3, 8.47 ERA) will make his return from a Triple-A rehab assignment (left-groin strain) to start Wednesday for the Red Sox, who are 16-33 against American League East opponents and 3-11 against the Jays this season.

On July 24, Bello allowed five runs on nine hits in four innings against Toronto.

Right-hander Jose Berrios (9-5, 5.39) gets the nod for Toronto and will look to post another strong start, having held the Red Sox to three earned runs over 13 innings this season.

In nine career starts against Boston, Berrios is 1-5 with a 3.86 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings.

Berrios allowed just two runs (one earned) and struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings Thursday as he helped the Blue Jays earn the first of three straight wins in a four-game set against the Yankees.

Before winning in the Bronx, Berrios didn’t make it out of the fourth inning in his first two outings following a 3-0 July.

“I think if he’s got a good feel for it when the game starts, it’s probably easier to get into a rhythm,” Jays reliever David Phelps said of Berrios recently. “I think as a starting pitcher, when you give up (runs) early, you get to the point where you feel like you have to be perfect the rest of the way, and that’s where you can get yourself into trouble.”

The Blue Jays have a plus-46 run differential in the head-to-head series. Tuesday’s 13-hit effort helped Toronto to its sixth straight win at Fenway Park.

During an eight-run third inning, former Boston outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. started his 2-for-3 night with a double and George Springer, who was sidelined with elbow inflammation earlier this month, hit a three-run triple.

“I’m doing my best,” Springer said. “I want to be able to play. I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do to be able to play and hopefully keep contributing.”

–Field Level Media