Jon Lester's second start of 2012 for the Red Sox comes in the rubber match against the Blue Jays and their ace Ricky Romero on Wednesday in a match-up of southpaws at Toronto's Rogers Centre.
Both Lester and Romero took no-decisions in their Opening Day starts, with the former pitching better to the tune of one run in seven innings, against the Tigers, while Romero gave up four runs in five innings to the Indians.
The Red Sox are 1-4 and in danger of heading home to Fenway Park for their home opener on Friday 1-5 and without a series win if they fall on Wednesday. A win for the Blue Jays would make them two-for-two in series victories.
"For us tomorrow, it's about winning the series and getting our first series win," Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis said. "If we go out there and play good ball offensively and defensively and do little things, if we can get ahead for him and get a lead, that would be a huge thing."
Youkilis went 2-for-4 on Tuesday in a 7-3 Toronto win, a breakout day for him after three 0-for-4 days to start the season.
Lester was great in a contest that pitted him against Justin Verlander on Thursday, and the lefty exited after seven frames and his club trailing 1-0.
"Lester was terrific," Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. "Jonny did just what he needed to do. He went out there and put up innings, and he did a great job."
Romero, meanwhile, became more of a footnote in the longest opener in big league history, pitching less than a third of the Blue Jays' 16 innings, 7-4 victory.
The Red Sox's bullpen hasn't done anything to instill confidence this season, making a lengthy start for Lester perhaps an unspoken priority. Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves both have a blown save, but the Blue Jays are in a similar situation, as their closer, Sergio Santos, has two.
Red Sox: Aviles bothered by left ankle
Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles is a gamer, and Valentine knows it. So when Aviles says he's fine, Valentine can't exactly take that at face value.
Aviles suffered a mild left ankle strain Monday, giving Nick Punto the start Tuesday.
"Mike sprained his ankle a little going out of the box yesterday in that second at-bat, I guess," Valentine said Tuesday. "He says he's fine. He always says he's fine. I guarantee he's going to say he's fine every day this year."
Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery, and encouragingly so. He threw 49 pitches in an extended spring game in Florida on Monday, hitting 94 mph and throwing 49 pitches.
Blue Jays: Encarnacion streaking out of gate
Edwin Encarnacion has a five-game hitting streak and team-leading five RBIs and three extra-base hits, a good early sign for a player who typically gets hotter later in the season.
"From Day 1 of Spring Training, he has had, I think, a much more compact swing," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "His wrist, which was nagging him in the past, has cleared up, and because he's feeling physically unlimited, it's showed in the aggressiveness and consistency of the swings."
The Red Sox won 10 of 18 games against the Blue Jays last season.
Kelly Shoppach is slated to catch Wednesday because of the day game after a night game and there's a southpaw on the mound.