There were plenty of concerns over what effect the trade of
would have on the offense of the
Boston Red Sox
So far, they're making a convincing argument it's made their lineup even better.
, the major leagues' top-scoring team in August and winners of four straight, will get a stern test from
Toronto Blue Jays
on Friday when the AL East rivals begin a three-game set at Fenway Park.
Boston (71-51) was scoring 4.94 runs per game, seventh-best in baseball, before Ramirez was dealt to the
Los Angeles Dodgers
on July 31 in a three-way trade that brought outfielder
Their offense, though, has taken off without the slugging outfielder. The
are averaging 7.23 runs through 13 games in August, with Bay hitting .327 while contributing 12 RBIs.
Boston's offense looked especially unstoppable in three games against Texas at Fenway this week. The
put up 37 runs in the series, completing the sweep 10-0 on Thursday behind a three-run homer from
, the designated hitter's third three-run blast of the series.
Ortiz struggled badly in his first seven games without Ramirez behind him, going just 3-for-28 (.107) with three RBIs. But
has delivered of late in the cleanup spot, Ortiz has resumed his typical production in the three-hole. Ortiz is 8-for-18 (.444)
with three homers and 12 RBIs in his last five games, while Youkilis is 10-for-22 (.455) with two homers and seven RBIs in
the same stretch.
"We don't need to rely on one guy," said second baseman
, the AL's leading hitter at .323. "We need all of us to accomplish our goals."
have won 10 of 13 in August, including four in a row for the first time since a seven-game run from May 17-22, but on Friday
they'll have to deal with one of baseball's best starters. Halladay (13-9, 2.72 ERA) has the AL's lowest ERA (1.93) since
June 30, pitching two complete games for Toronto (62-60).
He has, however, had trouble with the
. The 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner is 2-5 with a 5.27 ERA in his last 10 starts against Boston. He pitched well in his last
start at Fenway, allowing one run in 8 2-3 innings in a 1-0 defeat April 29.
Halladay wasn't at his best in his latest outing, but he was also the victim of some shaky defense. He gave up four runs -
one earned - and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings in a 4-2 loss to Cleveland on Saturday, throwing a career-high 130 pitches.
"Physically, I feel fine," Halladay told the
' official Web site. "You just prepare yourself - the only thing you do different is vary your work in between starts. I've
never had a problem with pitch counts."
Halladay's mound opponent from his latest start will also be on the hill Friday, albeit in a different uniform. Boston acquired
from Cleveland on Tuesday for a player to be named, hoping he can fill in for the injured
After going 3-10 prior to the All-Star break, Byrd (7-10, 4.53) has shined in the second half. He's won four straight starts,
posting a 1.24 ERA, and he pitched a six-hitter in the 4-2 win over Toronto on Saturday.
This time, Byrd will see a
team that had won three straight in Detroit prior to a 5-1 loss on Thursday.
"I want to be counted on," Byrd told Boston's official Web site. "The alternative of that is taking the mound when games don't
count and you're not in anything. And that's not fun at all."