After a shaky first few months as a Blue Jay, A.J. Burnett has reignited hopes that he can become a solid No. 2 starter in the Toronto rotation.
The right-hander had two stints on the disabled list with elbow problems in the first half of the season, and struggled to a 2-5 record and 4.84 ERA by Aug. 1. Since then, Burnett is 6-3 with a 3.20 ERA. His recent success is a turn around from past late-season performances -- Burnett's 7-14 career record in September is his worst record in any month.
One reason for Burnett's improved pitching is better control. If Burnett keeps up his current pace, he will establish a new personal best strikeout-to-walk ratio. Burnett's current 3:1 ratio (102 Ks to 34 walks) would break his previous best of 2.97:1, set in 2004.
Burnett's mound opponent is right-hander Devern Hansack, who is making his Major League debut. The 28-year-old native of Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua, was 8-7 in 31 games -- 18 of them starts -- with Double-A Portland this season.
Friday's 7-1 loss puts Toronto 2 1/2 games behind Boston for second place in the American League East. The Jays are trying to finish second for their highest finish in the AL East since they won the division in 1993.
BOS: RHP Devern Hansack (8-7, 3.26 ERA at Double-A Portland)
Hansack was the winning pitcher for Portland last Sunday in the deciding Game 5 of the Eastern League Championship series. His win gave Portland its first Eastern League title.
TOR: RHP A.J. Burnett (8-8, 3.97 ERA)
In his last start against Boston on Sept. 2, Burnett allowed one run on three hits in his second complete game of the season.
Player to watch
Vernon Wells has a .333 (22-for-66) average, eight homers and 18 RBIs in 15 games against Boston this season.
On the Internet
Official game notes
Sunday: Red Sox (RHP Kyle Snyder, 4-4, 6.28) at Blue Jays (LHP Gustavo Chacin, 8-3, 4.87), 1:07 p.m.
Monday: Red Sox (RHP Tim Wakefield, 7-10, 4.50) at Blue Jays (RHP Shaun Marcum, 2-4, 5.51), 7:07 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Blue Jays (RHP Josh Towers, 1-10, 8.84) at Tigers (RHP Jeremy Bonderman, 13-8, 4.11), 7:05 p.m. ET
Mark Polishuk is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.