The Red Sox have faltered in the first half of a 13-game stretch against solely American League East opponents. It was an opportunity to make up much needed ground, but they lost five of the first seven.
On Monday against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park, Boston will begin its third of four straight divisional series when Clay Buchholz takes on R.A. Dickey. The righties faced off Wednesday in Toronto and the Blue Jays won, 6-4.
Dickey was hit hard against the Red Sox in that outing, but escaped with a win. He surrendered four runs and nine hits over six innings. On the season, the knuckleballer has a 4.04 ERA and 1.31 WHIP over 22 starts.
In that win over Boston, Dickey allowed three runs in the first inning without recording an out, but settled down and got plenty of run support.
"What I really did better, is that I kind of let up on the gas," Dickey said after the start. "I was really changing speeds a lot tonight, because I needed to. My harder knuckleball wasn't moving like it normally does, so the change of speeds really helped me fight through some innings.
"When you start the game, giving up three runs, without recording an out, it can really weigh on you mentally. So it was a very satisfying win for me personally because I kept us in the game long enough for us to scratch it out."
Buchholz sandwiched a brilliant pre-All-Star break start in between a few shakier ones. Against the Astros on July 13, he threw a three-hit shutout while fanning 12. In his last two starts, the righty has allowed eight earned runs in 12 innings, while opponents are hitting .327/.400/.449 against him.
In that loss to the Blue Jays, Buchholz walked four after he allowed one free pass in his five previous starts. He gave up five hits and four runs with just one strikeout.
"On a night where Buchholz might not have had his best stuff or been his sharpest, I thought he had the ability to navigate through some things and keep us in the game and give us a chance to win as we get to the middle innings," Red Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday.
Red Sox: Colbrunn close to resuming full-time role
• Nearly two months after suffering a brain hemorrhage, Red Sox hitting coach Greg Colbrunn is close to returning to his full-time duties.
"He thought he'd be ready to make this trip, but everything points to him making every road trip from here on out," Farrell said Sunday. "When we return [Monday], we fully expect him in the dugout for the full nine innings. We're looking forward to having him back."
Colbrunn spent two weeks in a Cleveland hospital after feeling dizzy before a game against the Indians on June 4. He returned to the Red Sox part-time at the beginning of July and said he'd do as much he felt comfortable with while still recovering.
Blue Jays: Reimold activated, Rogers designated for assignment
• Although he hasn't spent much time with the club, Toronto is certainly happy to get Nolan Reimold back.
The club activated Reimold on Sunday and designated right-handed reliever Esmil Rogers for assignment. Reimold gives the Blue Jays a third right-handed hitter, with Jose Bautista and Steve Tolleson the only natural right-handed bats in the lineup. Righty hitters Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie are on the disabled list.
Toronto claimed Reimold off waivers from the Orioles in early July, but he went on the DL with a strained calf July 11. The 30-year-old won't play in the outfield right away while he gets back to full strength. He may serve as the designated hitter or pinch-hit when needed.
"It was less serious than what I thought it would be," Reimold said. "It really hurt at first. It was the muscle that runs along the side that you push off with. They said it would heal pretty quickly and it did. I noticed a lot of improvement in the first few days and worked my way back to where I am now."
The Blue Jays designated Rogers since there's no immediate need for another long reliever. Todd Redmond and Rob Rasmussen have been filling that role lately.
• Red Sox third baseman Xander Bogaerts sat out Sunday's 3-2 win over the Rays as he battles some consistency issues at the plate.
"Trying to keep some momentum going with the adjustments he's continuing to work on daily," said Farrell. "We've seen it gain a little traction inside of a given game, but occasionally there's some reversion back to him being a little bit quick to the front side -- some of the same challenges that he's been facing for some time now."
• Bobby Cox, who managed the Blue Jays from 1982-85, and Frank Thomas, who played in Toronto for part of two seasons late in his career, were inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday.
• Farrell said he wasn't surprised that Mike Carp went public with his trade request. Carp said he wants more playing time and did get the start at first base Sunday.
"We've had a chance to sit down and talk," Farrell said. "I respect his desire to play more. And yet, when you've been very consistent with what his role was a year ago, that was to be the same role this year. And I understand where players want to get on the field more consistently. So I respect what he had to say."
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.