When the Red Sox and Blue Jays meet for their third series on Friday at Fenway Park, it'll be a tale of two very different teams.
Boston is tied for the top spot in the American League East -- despite losing six of its last seven -- while Toronto occupies last place, but that's just what's on the surface.
The Red Sox will turn to their reliable ace, Jon Lester, while the Blue Jays will have recently called up veteran Ramon Ortiz on the mound.
Ortiz's start will be his first since July 10, 2011 against the Pirates as a member of the Cubs. The 39-year-old gets the call because of Brandon Morrow's back spasms that push his start to Sunday.
"He's had success, he throws strikes," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "He's had some success. In fairness, he does have a two ERA down there [in Triple-A Buffalo]."
Ortiz has spent most of his season in Buffalo, going 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in three starts. However, in his previous stint with Toronto earlier in the year, he allowed two earned runs in only 3 1/3 innings.
"He's been pitching good down there, it's close to his turn, he's been up here before, you know we like him. We've run a few of them through here," manager John Gibbons said. "We want him to pitch good. It's no easy assignment going to Fenway, but we think he will."
It wasn't supposed to be this way, but the Toronto rotation has been hit hard with injuries.
Add Morrow's injury to the list that includes J.A. Happ, who was hit in the head with a line drive on Tuesday, Josh Johnson and a sore R.A. Dickey. That leaves only Mark Buehrle as the lone healthy starter.
Meanwhile, Boston has been hurt by injuries to the bullpen. Joel Hanrahan was moved to the 60-day DL on Thursday, and Andrew Bailey remains on the 15-day disabled list, making way for Junichi Tazawa to take over the closer's role.
The Red Sox will roll out their ace, Lester, to face the Blue Jays for the third time this season. He's allowed five earned runs in 13 innings in his first two outings, although he held the Blue Jays scoreless through seven in his first matchup.
In his last start, Lester wasn't quite as spectacular as he was to start the season. He allowed three earned runs in six innings, with five hits, three walks and seven strikeouts versus the Rangers.
"I felt like I had pretty good stuff. I made two mistakes. Against a team like that in this ballpark, you can't do that," Lester said after his start.
Red Sox: Bullpen injuries open door for De La Torre
• As the saying goes, for every door that shuts, a window opens. That's the case for Red Sox hurler Jose De La Torre.
De La Torre took the spot on the roster that was vacant after Hanrahan's move to the 60-day disabled list.
For the time being, the 27-year-old will be used sparingly out of the bullpen.
"Low leverage innings right now," said manager John Farrell. "He's been stretched out to a couple of innings while at Pawtucket. Very good breaking ball that he showed us in Spring Training. He's got the ability to get an above average fastball at times. So we'll pick our spots for him. I'm not going to say he's just a strict matchup guy. We needed the arm, obviously, in the bullpen."
De La Torre posted a 1.56 ERA in 17 1/3 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket, holding opposing hitters to a .089 batting average (5-for-56). He allowed only one hit over his last 11 2/3 frames.
Blue Jays: Starting woes further damaged by Johnson's injury
• Adding to Toronto's starting woes is Johnson's inflamed right triceps that will keep him out until at least June.
Johnson hasn't pitched since April 21, but played catch on Wednesday and will now begin the process of working his arm back into shape.
"He's started playing catch, feeling better," Anthopoulos said. "We're hopeful to get him into a rehab game starting on the 21st. That's not set in stone, but that's kind of the date that we've had."
If all goes according to plan, Johnson's earliest return date would likely be sometime in early June after a pair of rehab outings.
• Lester is 12-7 with a 3.82 ERA (64 earned runs over 150 2/3 innings) in 24 career starts against Toronto, and has held them to a .206 average in his career, his second lowest mark against any AL club (KC, .176).
• Even with their recent struggles, the Red Sox remain tied for first place in the AL East with the Orioles and Yankees. Boston has been in first place or tied for first all 40 days this season.
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.