R.A. Dickey didn't have his best stuff in his Toronto Blue Jays debut.
The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner could have some margin for error in his second start if his teammates continue their power surge Sunday against the visiting Boston Red Sox.
Acquired from the New York Mets in the offseason and now the centerpiece of the Blue Jays' new-look rotation, Dickey (0-1, 4.50 ERA) struggled in Tuesday's 4-1 season-opening loss to Cleveland. The 38-year-old knuckleballer gave up four runs in six innings, walking four with four strikeouts.
Dickey walked more than three batters just twice in 33 starts a year ago.
"The release point was a struggle for me tonight a little bit, because it was moving so much early, but I felt like I had a pretty good handle on it for most of the night," he told the Blue Jays' official website.
J.P. Arencibia struggled behind the plate in Dickey's debut, getting charged with three passed balls in the first two innings, so Henry Blanco is Sunday's likely starting catcher.
That doesn't mean Arencibia won't play. He leads the team with three doubles and three homers after getting one of each Saturday in Toronto's 5-0 victory.
Colby Rasmus added a three-run shot, giving the Blue Jays 11 homers in four games since hitting none in Dickey's first appearance.
Toronto (2-3) could get another power boost Sunday if two-time major league home run champ Jose Bautista returns after missing two games with a sore right ankle.
Bautista has four homers in 45 at_bats against left-hander Jon Lester (1-0, 3.60), who gets the ball in the series finale looking to win his first two starts for the first time. He struck out seven in five innings of an 8-2 season-opening win over the New York Yankees last Monday.
It was a promising sign after Lester went 9-14 a year ago.
"I had good fastball command and a good cutter today and just really didn't have anything else," he told the Red Sox's official website. "... With that being said, I'm really pleased with the outcome with just those two pitches. It was good."
Lester, though, went 1-3 with a 7.27 ERA in four starts against the Blue Jays last season, including losses in both starts at Rogers Centre. The Red Sox scored one total run in those games.
After a 12-hit attack in Friday's 6-4 series-opening victory, Boston had two hits Saturday, matching its fewest ever versus Toronto. The Red Sox had 23 runs and hit .309 in their first four games.
Shortstop Jose Iglesias, tied with Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino with a team-best seven hits, could return to the lineup. He sat Saturday after getting hit on the right elbow by a pitch from Josh Johnson on Friday.
Dickey will make his fourth start against the Red Sox and first since 2008 while with Seattle.
Boston is seeking a third straight series win in Toronto.
The Associated Press News Service
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