TORONTO -- Venezuelan left-hander Felix Doubront makes his first start of the season Monday night in a game that Adrian Gonzalez says the 0-3 Red Sox need to approach as if it’s the last game of the season.
After three games of being abused by Tiger sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, the Sox will hardly get a reprieve across the border. Awaiting Doubront is one Jose Bautista, the Blue Jays masher whom Rays manager Joe Maddon likens to Barry Bonds, circa 2002. “It’s that insane,’’ Maddon said of Bautista, who hit 43 home runs last season, had a slugging percentage of .608, and last season hit 1 of his home runs in just 119 at-bats while posting a 1.156 OPS.
One thing that could work in the Sox favor is that Jays manager John Farrell has already had to use his bullpen for 18 innings this season, because two of their games went into extra innings, including the longest opener in history, 16 innings. Unlike the Sox, the Jays bullpen excelled in its first weekend, holding the far less imposing Cleveland Indians to just two runs in that span.
Doubront’s best pitch is his changeup, and he’s coming off a fine spring, which he capped with six shutout innings in a minor-league game. His arrival comes maybe a year later than the Sox had hoped -- coming to camp out of shape last spring cost him a shot at a spot -- but he clearly worked hard this winter and appears confident that he is ready to make the next step.
Also notable: The game time has been moved to 7:30 p.m.
Here is the Red Sox lineup for tonight:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. David Ortiz, DH
6. Cody Ross, LF
7. Ryan Sweeney, RF
8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
9. Mike Aviles, SS
SP -- Felix Doubront, LHP