Across The World

The Boston Red Sox began their season-opening series in Japan on March 25, and closed it in California eight days later. After a one-day layoff, they hope to be ready to start their next series in yet another country.

Continuing their early-season trek across the world, the Red Sox visit Canada to open a three-game series Friday against the AL East rival Toronto Blue Jays, who are playing their home opener at Rogers Centre.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Boston –105 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -105 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Boston (3-1) split its first two games against Oakland at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. After returning to the United States for three exhibition games in Los Angeles, the Red Sox continued their series against the Athletics, winning the final two games in Oakland, including a 5-0 victory on Wednesday.

The defending World Series champion Red Sox are as close to home as they've been in weeks, but they still have three games against the Blue Jays (1-2) before they return to Boston for their home opener against Detroit next Tuesday.

Though Boston has won three of four, Red Sox manager Terry Francona says the travel has affected his club.

"We're certainly not on all cylinders," Francona said after the Red Sox had 13 hits but left 12 runners on base in Wednesday's win. "That may be part of the trip ... but what they did today was good enough."

Designated hitter David Ortiz got his first two hits - including his first home run - and his first two RBIs in that game after opening the season 0-for-11.

"It feels good, man. I've been fighting a lot of stuff right now," Ortiz told the team's official Web site. "It's still early in the season, so I can put myself together. I've been fighting through with my balance and recognizing pitches. In spring training, I wasn't having fun like I normally do. At the beginning of the season, it was the same way."

Ortiz has 29 career homers against the Blue Jays, and has only hit more against Tampa Bay (31).

The Blue Jays went 49-32 at Rogers Centre last season and won five of their last six games there - a stretch that included a three-game sweep of the Red Sox from September 17-19. The Red Sox, though, went 5-4 in Toronto, and the teams split their 18-game season series.

The Blue Jays are hoping to fare better than they did in their frustrating season-opening series against the New York Yankees. They outscored the Yankees 9-8 in the series, but lost two 3-2 games, including one on Thursday night.

"It was just like the first game here. Tight ballgame. You've got to be able to win some of them," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I thought we left all those tight games behind us last year, but I guess not."

Toronto will try to bounce back by sending Shaun Marcum (12-6, 4.13 ERA) to the mound. The right-hander is coming off a breakout season, during which he went 11-4 with a 3.91 ERA after earning a spot in the starting rotation in May.

He was 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA in two starts against the Red Sox - both Blue Jays wins - and 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA in five games against them overall.

He'll face veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (17-12, 4.76), who's 15-10 with a 3.86 ERA in 45 career games - 35 starts - against Toronto. The right-hander was 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts against the Blue Jays in 2007.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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