R.A. Dickey didn't have his best stuff in his Toronto Blue Jays debut.
The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner could have some margin for error in his second start if his teammates continue their power surge Sunday against the visiting Boston Red Sox.
Acquired from the New York Mets in the offseason and now the centerpiece of the Blue Jays' new-look rotation, Dickey (0-1, 4.50 ERA) struggled in Tuesday's 4-1 season-opening loss to Cleveland. The 38-year-old knuckleballer gave up four runs in six innings, walking four with four strikeouts.
Dickey walked more than three batters just twice in 33 starts a year ago.
"The release point was a struggle for me tonight a little bit, because it was moving so much early, but I felt like I had a pretty good handle on it for most of the night," he told the Blue Jays' official website.
J.P. Arencibia struggled behind the plate in Dickey's debut, getting charged with three passed balls in the first two innings, so Henry Blanco is Sunday's likely starting catcher.
That doesn't mean Arencibia won't play. He leads the team with three doubles and three homers after getting one of each Saturday in Toronto's 5-0 victory.
Colby Rasmus added a three-run shot, giving the Blue Jays 11 homers in four games since hitting none in Dickey's first appearance.
Toronto (2-3) could get another power boost Sunday if two-time major league home run champ Jose Bautista returns after missing two games with a sore right ankle.
Bautista has four homers in 45 at-bats against left-hander Jon Lester (1-0, 3.60), who gets the ball in the series finale looking to win his first two starts for the first time. He struck out seven in five innings of an 8-2 season-opening win over the New York Yankees last Monday.
It was a promising sign after Lester went 9-14 a year ago.
"I had good fastball command and a good cutter today and just really didn't have anything else," he told the Red Sox's official website. "... With that being said, I'm really pleased with the outcome with just those two pitches. It was good."
Lester, though, went 1-3 with a 7.27 ERA in four starts against the Blue Jays last season, including losses in both starts at Rogers Centre. The Red Sox scored one total run in those games.
After a 12-hit attack in Friday's 6-4 series-opening victory, Boston had two hits Saturday, matching its fewest ever versus Toronto. The Red Sox had 23 runs and hit .309 in their first four games.
Shortstop Jose Iglesias , tied with Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino with a team-best seven hits, could return to the lineup. He sat Saturday after getting hit on the right elbow by a pitch from Josh Johnson on Friday.
Dickey will make his fourth start against the Red Sox and first since 2008 while with Seattle.
Boston is seeking a third straight series win in Toronto.
|Boston Red Sox|
|April 06, 2013||John Lackey||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right biceps strain|
|March 27, 2013||Stephen Drew||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|March 22, 2013||Franklin Morales||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|March 22, 2013||David Ortiz||15-Day DL||Right Achilles soreness|
|March 22, 2013||Craig Breslow||15-Day DL||Left shoulder tendinitis|
|February 20, 2013||Ryan Kalish||60-Day DL||Recovery from right shoulder surgery|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|April 04, 2013||Jose Bautista||Day-to-Day||Left game - Twisted ankle|
|March 27, 2013||Dustin McGowan||15-Day DL||Sore right shoulder|
|March 25, 2013||Brett Lawrie||Day-to-Day||Strained rib|
|March 22, 2013||Drew Hutchison||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Brett Lawrie||15-Day DL||Strained left ribcage|
|March 22, 2013||Michael Schwimer||15-Day DL||Right shoulder strain|
TORONTO (AP) -- Boston's Will Middlebrooks swung the bat so well Sunday, he even got an unwanted visit from a fan who came out of the stands to congratulate him.
Middlebrooks hit three home runs, two off NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, and the Red Sox routed the Toronto Blue Jays 13-0.
"He had about 2,000 feet of homers," Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester said of Middlebrooks. "He obviously feels pretty good at the plate. It's fun to watch."
Middlebrooks went 4 for 5 with four RBIs. He hit two home runs off Dickey, a two-run shot to right in the first inning and a solo drive into the second deck in left in the fifth. He connected again off Dave Bush with a leadoff longball to left in the seventh, the first three homer game of his career.
Mike Napoli added a two-run shot, and Jacoby Ellsbury and Daniel Nava also went deep as the Red Sox connected for six homers and set season highs for runs and hits (15), one day after getting just two hits in a 5-0 loss.
In the bottom of the ninth, a fan jumped out of the stands and ran toward Middlebrooks at third base, his hand extended. Security tackled the fan and dragged him off the field.
"He said he was happy to meet me and then he got tackled," Middlebrooks said. "He started to say something else and then he got drilled. That was a good tackle.
"He got pretty close," Middlebrooks added. "I didn't know if he was going to make it. I was trying to time it out of the corner of my eye. I was like `Am I going to have to shake this guy's hand?"'
Middlebrooks, who doubled and scored in the third, flied out to the left field warning track in his final at-bat in the eighth.
"I was blowing on it running down the line but it didn't have enough steam," he said.
Limited to 75 games as a rookie because of a broken right hand, the Red Sox have high hopes for Middlebrooks this year, his second big league season.
"We're counting on him to be a big run producer," former MVP Dustin Pedroia said. "He's got that ability."
Nava went back-to-back with Middlebrooks in the seventh, a homer that bounced off the top of the wall in center field and went out. It's the first time this season the Red Sox have hit consecutive home runs.
Ellsbury had three hits, including a leadoff homer into the second deck in right in the eighth, his first. Three batters later, Napoli capped the rout with a home run to center, his second. He finished with four RBIs.
Boston jumped on Dickey in the first, scoring five runs before the knuckleballer had recorded an out.
Ellsbury led off with a double, Shane Victorino singled to center and Pedroia drove in a run with a groundball single through the right side.
Napoli hit a two-run double and Middlebrooks followed with a first pitch homer to right.
Even the outs Dickey got were loud. Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia each flied out to the warning track before Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out to end the inning.
Dickey (0-2) allowed eight runs - seven earned - and 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings. It was his shortest start and the most runs he'd allowed since giving up eight runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 14-6 loss at Atlanta last April 18, when he pitched for the New York Mets .
"Throughout the course of the season you're going to have a clunker or two," Dickey said. "You just have to try and forget it as soon as you can. Obviously today was one of those days for me."
The five first inning runs allowed by Dickey matched the amount he gave up in the first inning in all of 2012, when he made 33 starts.
Aces were out on Sunday. AL Cy Young winner David Price also got rocked as the Rays lost to Cleveland by the same 13-0 score.
Lester (2-0) allowed five hits, all singles, in seven shutout innings.
"A lot of quality strikes," Farrell said. "He delivered the ball downhill. He carried his stuff through the full seven innings."
Lester walked none and struck out six, improving to 6-2 with a 2.13 ERA in his past nine starts at Rogers Centre.
"His performance was kind of overshadowed because we hit six home runs," Middlebrooks said. "He shut out a good hitting team. All his pitches were on and when that cutter is on, he's really dangerous."
Clayton Mortensen pitched the final two innings for Boston.
Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista was held out of the starting lineup, the third straight game he's missed with a sore right ankle. The two-time major league home run leader twisted his ankle stepping on first base while beating out a double play in the eighth inning last Thursday.
NOTES: Red Sox DH David Ortiz (right heel) is set to play in extended spring training games starting Monday and could begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket as early as Thursday, manager John Farrell said. ... Boston SS Stephen Drew (concussion) will play two more games with Double-A Portland before rejoining the team in time for Wednesday's game against Baltimore. ... Lester had to jump out of the way of Edwin Encarnacion 's shattered bat in the fourth. Encarnacion grounded to short on the play. ... Toronto claimed RHP Edgar Gonzalez off waivers from Houston and transferred RHP Dustin MCGowan from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL. ... The Red Sox open their home schedule at Fenway Park on Monday afternoon. RHP Clay Buchholz faces Baltimore LHP Wei-Yin Chen.