It will be a battle of Japanese starting pitchers when the Blue Jays take on the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Rogers Centre.
Jays starting pitcher Tomo Ohka will take the mound against fellow countryman and rookie sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka. It's only the fourth time in the history of Major League Baseball that two Japanese starting pitchers will pitch against eachother in a game. The last time it happened was in 2002, when Ohka defeated Mac Suzuki of the Royals.
Ohka will hope for a similar result this time around and in turn help stop the Blue Jays losing streak at seven games. This will mark the third time Ohka has faced Boston this year. In his last start against the Red Sox, the Jays righty picked up his first win of the season after surrendering two earned runs on six hits over five innings of work. This start could be of extra importance for Ohka because he has more wins (50) than any Japanese pitcher not named Hideo Nomo, but still doesn't get the respect or attention in Japan that Matsuzaka does.
After dropping the first game of the series to the Red Sox on Tuesday night, Toronto now sits 8 1/2 games back of Boston for first place in the American League East Division. Even though it's still early in the season, Jays manager John Gibbons knows his team needs a strong performance from Ohka to stop the losing streak at seven games and keep pace with the top teams in the AL.
"We need it," Gibbons said. "He's pitched pretty well against [the Red Sox]. He beat them in Boston and he pitched pretty well at home against them too."
TOR: RHP Tomo Ohka (2-3, 5.50 ERA)
Ohka is 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA against Boston this season.
BOS: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-2, 5.45 ERA)
Matsuzaka is 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA when pitching away from Fenway Park.
Player to watch
Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay went 1-for-3 with an RBI in his first career game against Matsuzaka earlier this season. He was one of only three Blue Jays to record a hit against Dice-K.
On the Internet
Official game notes
Thursday: Red Sox (RHP Tim Wakefield, 3-3, 2.11) at Blue Jays (RHP Roy Halladay, 4-1, 3.59), 7:07 p.m. ET
Friday: Devil Rays (LHP Scott Kazmir, 2-1, 3.71) at Blue Jays (RHP A.J. Burnett, 2-3, 5.09), 7:07 p.m. ET
Saturday: Devil Rays (RHP Edwin Jackson, 0-5, 6.99) at Blue Jays (RHP Dustin McGowan, 0-0, 9.00), 1:07 p.m. ET
Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.