Red Sox, Blue Jays look to shake early struggles

Article content continued

Toronto right-hander Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 5.91) will make his third start of the season. In four career appearances against Boston (three starts), he is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA. He won last season at Fenway Park, on April 9, allowing four runs (two earned) in 5 2/3 innings.

The Red Sox made an anticipated lineup change Saturday, moving Alex Verdugo into the leadoff spot in place of struggling Andrew Benintendi, who was moved to seventh in the order.

“(Verdugo) is a guy that we have talked about for a week at least, trying to figure out where he fits in the lineup,” Roenicke said. “There’s a lot of different spots. When he’s hitting well, he can hit first, second or third (or) sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth. There’s a lot of spots, and we think he’s getting to that point where he’s swinging well enough and is confident enough. In the leadoff spot, we know how important that is.”

Verdugo had an infield single in four at-bats Saturday. Benintendi hit into a double play in his only at-bat Saturday before Kevin Pillar pinch hit for him in the fourth when Toronto brought in left-hander Anthony Kay.

Toronto has been hurting itself with poor fundamentals on the bases. The Blue Jays made three base-running blunders in the 5-3 loss on Friday and at least one more on Saturday when Rowdy Tellez was out on a pickoff/caught stealing in the fourth inning. Toronto also had a runner thrown out at home.

“We can not make the mistakes we made (on Friday), even more so when you’re playing in close games and not really swinging the bats,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “It’s player development in the big leagues.”