They're without their leading slugger, not to mention two other key cogs in their lineup, all of them recovering from injuries. But despite missing the presence of Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie and Adam Lind, the Blue Jays have been picking up the slack at the plate recently, and it's led to four wins in six games since the All-Star break.
Toronto is batting .293 over that span, and despite a slow start to the second half for Jose Bautista, the slugger got going in Wednesday's 6-4 win over the Red Sox at Rogers Centre, homering and driving in two runs. Bautista has 28 career homers against Boston, his most against any team.
The Blue Jays hope that means Bautista is heating up and that their offense can continue to produce as they get closer to full strength. In Thursday's series finale, with Toronto going for a series victory, the club will face a pitcher who has been on a roll as he makes his first career start against the Blue Jays.
Over his last four outings, Rubby De La Rosa has a 1.73 ERA (five earned runs in 26 innings), and the right-hander has been impressive in seven starts after being used exclusively as a reliever in 2013, a year removed from Tommy John surgery.
"He projects a great mound presence right now; he's confident and his overall pitch mix and usage matches the confidence he shows with his body language," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of the 25-year-old De La Rosa. "He has all the abilities to be an upper-end rotation pitcher. Through consistent performance, that should play out, but he's in a pretty good place right now."
De La Rosa will oppose Toronto rookie right-hander Marcus Stroman, who has also been impressive since being made a starter in late May. In five relief appearances before that, Stroman posted a 12.79 ERA (nine earned runs in 6 1/3 innings). But in nine starts since, he's gone 4-2 with a 2.50 ERA, fanning 48 while walking 12.
Stroman tossed seven scoreless frames to earn the win against the Rangers on Saturday. He escaped his only real jam when Texas put two on with no out in the fourth, retiring the last nine batters he faced thereafter.
"I feel like I know what I need to do [in that situation]," he said. "You have to raise your intensity. You can't be as relaxed. I'm able to make a big pitch in a crucial count, and that was one of those moments."
Red Sox: Holt gets well deserved day off
• Brock Holt, who entered Wednesday leading American League rookies with a .321 batting average and .366 on-base percentage, got a day off after playing in 59 consecutive games and a league-leading 533 total innings since being recalled from Triple-A on May 17.
Holt has played every position except pitcher and catcher, and with his flexibility has provided valuable off-days for other regular players.
"Given [how he's performed], you never like to take any player out that's doing extremely well," Farrell said. "And yet, you feel like he's played every inning since sometime back in May, and we felt like the last couple of days you're starting to see it a little in his play. He's deserving of a day off."
Blue Jays: Encarnacion, Lind may not need rehab assignments
• Encarnacion and Lind could be back in the lineup as early as Monday, when Toronto begins a series against Boston at Fenway Park, according to manager John Gibbons.
Encarnacion sustained a strained right quadriceps muscle July 5 in Oakland and Lind hasn't played since July 7 due to a fractured right foot. Both are working out at the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla.
"If we need 'em, we need 'em," Gibbons said before Wednesday's 6-4 win over Boston. "If they come quick, somebody just said a minute ago, desperate times call for desperate measures."
Encarnacion leads Toronto with 26 home runs and 70 RBIs. Lind is batting .320 with an .878 OPS in 178 at-bats.
• David Ortiz hit four homers in the first three games of the series. His three-run blast in the first inning Wednesday was his 37th career homer at Rogers Centre, the most by any visiting player in the history of the ballpark.
• The Red Sox have gone deep in a season-high eight consecutive games. The 13 homers they've hit over that span have accounted for 23 of their 47 runs since July 12.
• Bautista is batting .361 (26-for-72) with eight home runs and 17 RBIs in his past 18 games against Boston.
• Right-handed batters are hitting .277 against the right-handed Stroman, while lefties are batting just .227 against him, though four of the five homers Stroman has surrendered have been by lefties.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.