Blue Jays-Red Sox Preview
By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- The Toronto Blue Jays tried to address their injury-ravaged rotation with a trade.
Carlos Villanueva is making his own surprising contribution.
Villanueva will try to help the Blue Jays return to .500 as they go for a second straight win against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Saturday night.
Toronto (46-47) has used 10 starters this season because a slew of injuries has left it without Dustin McGowan (foot), Brandon Morrow (oblique), Kyle Drabek (elbow) and Drew Hutchison (elbow).
In an effort to bolster their staff, the Blue Jays acquired pitchers J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter from Houston on Friday in exchange for closer Francisco Cordero, outfielder Ben Francisco and five minor leaguers.
Happ went 7-9 with a 4.83 ERA in 18 starts for the Astros this year, while Lyon and Carpenter have been used exclusively out of the bullpen.
"It shows that one we've made the commitment and addressed an area that's needed. It's depth to our overall pitching," manager John Farrell said. "What this means in the next 10, 11 days remains to be seen."
Farrell has to like what he's seen of late from Villanueva (4-0, 2.68 ERA), who is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in three starts since moving into the rotation. He went 5-3 with a 5.15 ERA in 13 starts for the Blue Jays last season.
The right-hander's unexpected success as a starter has included 12 consecutive scoreless innings over his last two games. He yielded three hits and struck out a career-high eight in six innings in Sunday's 3-0 win over Cleveland.
This will be Villanueva's first start against Boston (48-46) since he was tagged for six runs in four innings of a loss with Milwaukee on May 18, 2008. He's allowed one run in 7 2-3 innings over five relief appearances since.
Aaron Cook (2-2, 3.34) has been equally surprising for the Red Sox, going 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA in four starts since being inserted into the rotation.
The right-hander was impressive again Monday, allowing an unearned run and five hits in seven innings but didn't get a decision in the 5-1 win over the Chicago White Sox. Cook has two strikeouts and two walks in 29 2-3 innings this season.
"That's what he does, when you have that sinker you pitch to contact and he's not going to walk anyone," manager Bobby Valentine told the team's official website.
Cook is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts against the Blue Jays, but hasn't faced them since 2007 with Colorado.
It would seem he has a favorable matchup this time since Toronto is without three-time All-Star Jose Bautista, who went on the disabled list earlier this week with a wrist injury. However, the Blue Jays ended a three-game skid by beating the Red Sox 6-1 on Friday.
Toronto scored one less run than in its previous four games combined.
Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus are looking to continue their success after combining for four hits and three RBIs Friday.
Lind is 11 for 24 with seven RBIs in his last seven games, while Rasmus is 6 for 18 with three extra-base hits and six RBIs in four visits to Fenway.
Updated July 21, 2012