It's only May 1 and there is still plenty of baseball remaining in the season, but this series against the Red Sox matters to the Blue Jays.
It matters a lot.
"I guarantee it matters more for us than it matters for them, that's for sure," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You have to play good in your division. That's no secret. You play them so often and we haven't gotten off to a good start that way. Our division's tough, and I think we anticipate the division will probably beat itself up over time, you at least have to hold your own."
The Red Sox lead the AL East and boast the best record in baseball, but this team is not satisfied. They are not taking the Blue Jays for granted and it doesn't matter where Toronto is in the standings.
"Regardless of recent play, we have complete respect for this team we are going up against," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Obviously they miss [Jose] Reyes at the top of that order, but this is still an explosive offense. This is a very good team that we feel has a lot of talent on it that we are going up against."
The Blue Jays will have their work cut out for them when Boston starter Clay Buchholz takes the hill Wednesday. The first five-win pitcher in the Majors this season, Buchholz is holding hitters to a .192 average. What's more, the right-hander has struck out more than a batter per inning while allowing just one home run.
And at the plate, David Ortiz has been on a tear. The Boston designated hitter carries a 21-game hit streak into this game, dating back to 2012.
Mark Buehrle's first month with the Blue Jays didn't go as planned. Three of his first five outings lasted 5 1/3 innings or fewer and he gave up at least five earned runs.
"I wouldn't worry about him," Gibbons said. "If you look at it, really what's happened, we've struggled in all different areas. Defensively is probably the most glaring, especially early on. There have been times we haven't hit, times when we've had real good pitching and there have been times when we've struggled. We're where we should be right now to be honest with you."
Buehrle allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Yankees in his previous start.
"Look at Mark's track record from the last 10 years, he's up there with the Halladays, Sabathias, the guys that won the most games, pitched the most innings," Gibbons said. "He's been as reliable as anybody in baseball."
Red Sox: Napoli a key cog to offense
• Mike Napoli, who went 0-for-4 Tuesday, set new club records for the month of April with 18 extra-base hits and 13 doubles.
• Shane Victorino, who has been out since Thursday with lower back stiffness, swung in the cage and hit off a tee Tuesday. The club will wait to see how he responds before deciding on whether to put him on the disabled list.
• Left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, who is on the disabled list with left shoulder tendinitis, will continue his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday against Durham.
Blue Jays: Encarnacion swinging hot stick
• Edwin Encarnacion went 2-for-4 with a pair of two-run home runs Tuesday and is riding a season-high eight-game hitting streak. He is batting .357 with six home runs and 12 RBIs during that stretch.
• Jose Bautista went 1-for-2 with an RBI double Tuesday and has hit a home run in four of his last six games against the Red Sox dating back to last season. He's also homered eight times in his last 24 games against Boston.
• Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey have been pushed back a day in the rotation because of lingering ailments.
• The Red Sox are 12-0 when scoring first this season.
• Bautista needs three more games to reach 1,000 games played in his career.
• The Red Sox finished the month of April with the best record in baseball for the 11th time in team history. The team went on to win the World Series the last time it finished with the best record in baseball in April.