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Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey looks to improve to 3-0 this year vs. the Red Sox.The Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox open a three-game series tonight at Fenway Park (7 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN). The Blue Jays have won seven of the 10 matchups so far this season, including three of four last week in Toronto.
Longest Current Drought
Without Playoff Appearance
However, since June 7, the Blue Jays are 18-26 -- the third-worst record in the American League in that span -- and are now three games behind the Orioles for first place in the division.
Toronto hasn’t been to the playoffs since it won the World Series in 1993. Only the Kansas City Royals have gone longer without a postseason appearance.
One player who can help the Blue Jays break their postseason drought is José Bautista. In 2010, Bautista had a breakout year, hitting a major league-best 54 home runs.
Since the start of that year, Bautista’s 172 home runs are tied with Miguel Cabrera for the most in baseball.
Another player who has been a key cog in the Blue Jays' success is José Reyes, who has been aggressive this season, swinging at 47 percent of the pitches he sees. That’s his highest swing rate in the past six seasons.
Reyes is a tough batter to put away, even in an 0-2 count. From the start of the 2012 season on his .302 batting average in such a count over that time span is the highest in MLB.
As for the defending world champion Red Sox, they are in last place in the AL East. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 1998 Florida Marlins are the only team to finish last in the division or the league the year after winning the World Series.
Boston also finished last in the AL East in 2012. No team has ever finished in last place one year, won the World Series the next year, and then finished last the next year.
Dustin Pedroia This Season
Dustin Pedroia has been struggling for the Red Sox; his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are all at career-worst levels.
Meanwhile, teams have used an infield shift on more than 8,800 balls in play this season, already more than all of last season (8,134), and David Ortiz has seen his fair share of shifts. The shift has certainly had an effect on him this season.
• He’s hitting .157 on ground balls and soft line drives against the shift this season.
• He’s hitting .333 on similar batted balls when there is no shift.
• Only three hitters (minimum 125 PAs against the shift) have a larger difference in batting average on grounders and soft liners without the shift vs. against the shift.
• His BABIP is .241 this season (his BABIP was .318 overall the previous four seasons).
• R.A. Dickey went 0-2 with an 8.53 ERA against the Red Sox last season. This year, he’s 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA.
• Dustin Pedroia is hitting .167 (3-for-18) in his career against Dickey, including 1-for-his-past-12.
• Clay Buchholz has allowed at least four earned runs in seven of his past 10 starts. Of course, in the middle of that, he threw a three-hit shutout against the Houston Astros with 12 strikeouts and no walks.