The Blue Jays needed to change something fast, and it seemed as if three games against a struggling Red Sox team -- losers of eight straight prior to Monday -- could be the answer. Toronto is 10 games behind American League East-leading Baltimore and is 6 1/2 games out of the league's second Wild Card spot.
But Wednesday, the Blue Jays will wrap up a three-game set against the Red Sox just looking to avoid a sweep. Since sweeping Boston at Fenway Park in late July, the Blue Jays have taken just one series (1-6-1). Joe Kelly will get the ball for the Red Sox against Marcus Stroman in Wednesday's finale.
Stroman has hit a rough patch of late, posting an 8.66 ERA and .338/.400/.455 slash line against over his last four starts. On Aug. 15 against the White Sox, he allowed five runs and five hits before being yanked in the first inning.
On Friday against the Rays, Stroman gave up 10 hits and five earned runs in five-plus innings.
"It's extremely frustrating," Stroman said. "I couldn't keep my team in it today to get a win. Something you have to put past you."
Kelly will be ready Wednesday despite leaving Friday's start vs. Seattle with a "minor tweak" in his shoulder. He came through his side and bullpen sessions earlier this week without issue.
Against the Mariners, Kelly exited in the midst of his best start with the Red Sox since being acquired from St. Louis on July 31. He allowed just one hit and three walks over five shutout innings. Kelly struck out five, but he was removed for precautionary reasons.
Kelly walked 13 batters through his first three starts with the Red Sox, striking out only nine. But Friday was a step in the right direction.
"Predominantly, I wanted to work on obviously not walking guys. To pitch at this level, you have to have good fastball command," Kelly said. "That's what I try to focus on as much as I can in between starts, and it's still a work in progress. It's still not exactly where I want to be. But it definitely was a lot better tonight and I think we executed on both sides of the plate by not staying in one location with the fastball tonight."
Red Sox: Napoli DH'ing, Craig at first with Ortiz still out
The Red Sox held David Ortiz out of the lineup for a second straight day because of a bruised right foot. Ortiz fouled a fastball off the top of his right foot Sunday against the Mariners and left the game a few innings later.
Boston skipper John Farrell said Ortiz thought he'd need two days down and could be ready to go Wednesday.
"He's improved, yet he still needs another day. ... Hopefully he's back in the lineup tomorrow," said Farrell.
With Ortiz sidelined, Mike Napoli took his spot as the team's designated hitter and Allen Craig played his second straight game at first in Napoli's place. Both homered in the 11th inning of Boston's 11-7 win. Napoli went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and Craig was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.
Blue Jays: Reimold designated for assignment
Toronto claimed Nolan Reimold off waivers in early July looking for a lefty-killing bat. The outfielder never settled in, and on Tuesday, the club designated him for assignment. The Blue Jays recalled outfielder Kevin Pillar in a corresponding move.
If Reimold clears waivers, he could accept an assignment to Triple-A Buffalo. He hit .212 with a .687 OPS in 60 plate appearances over 22 games with Toronto.
"He wasn't getting a whole lot of steady work," said manager John Gibbons. "It's tough in that role and he never really got it going."
Pillar, who was a late addition to Tuesday's lineup because Colby Rasmus came down with flu-like symptoms, has played 27 games this season and went 1-for-6 on Tuesday.
Pillar and Gibbons cleared the air Tuesday about Pillar's previous demotion to Buffalo. He was upset, and showed it, after being pulled for a pinch-hitter in a June 24 game against the Yankees. The next day, he was optioned.
"We moved on from it, said it was water under the bridge," Pillar said. "We didn't really much about expectations, but I'm sure the expectation is to play when he tells me to, defensive replacement, pinch-run, just go out there and help the team win."
• Jose Bautista became the third player in Blue Jays history to have five consecutive 25-home run seasons when he went deep in the seventh inning Tuesday. He joins Carlos Delgado (nine) and Joe Carter (six) on that list.
• Anthony Ranaudo, Boston's No. 5 prospect according to MLB.com, was named the International League's Most Valuable Pitcher on Tuesday. Ranaudo is 14-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 24 starts with Triple-A Pawtucket this season.
The Red Sox optioned Brandon Workman on Sunday and the team will recall a pitcher to start Friday against the Rays. Ranaudo is a likely candidate.
• The Red Sox will send shortstop Deven Marrero, second baseman Sean Coyle and pitchers Keith Couch, Madison Younginer, Robby Scott and Aaron Kurcz to the Arizona Fall League. Marrero is the 11th-ranked prospect in the club's system according to MLB.com, while Coyle comes in at No. 14. There's also an empty outfielder's spot, which could be held for Cuban defector Rusney Castillo, who signed a seven-year, $72.5 million deal last week.
Players in the Blue Jays' system headed to the AFL are Dalton Pompey, the club's No. 3 prospect, infielder Jon Berti and outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. The other players have not yet been formally announced.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.