TORONTO -- The press box is jammed and there are more than 40,000 expected in the stands in Rogers Centre for Daisuke Matsuzaka's appearance against the Blue Jays Tuesday night. The game begins a huge stretch for the Red Sox, who have 11 of their next 13 games against either the Blue Jays or Yankees.
With Toronto playing minus the injured B.J. Ryan, Troy Glaus and Reed Johnson and the Yankees' pitching rotation in shambles, these are much more important games than your average April affairs. If the Red Sox go, say, 10-3 in this stretch, they could quickly create some breathing room in the AL East.
Before Tuesday's series opener, however, manager Terry Francona played the one-game-at-a-time theory to the hilt.
"If we run through these games, it will be great. But in baseball, that's a dangerous way for us to look at it," Francona said. "You're talking about two weeks down the road. We need to win tonight. We can't look at it like that. That would be similar to somebody asking [Patriots coach] Bill Belichick when they're playing the [Kansas City] Chiefs how they might do in a couple weeks against the Bills.
"Knowing Bill, he might tell you to go do something thinking that way. I wouldn't do that but Bill would. It just doesn't make sense. We have to take care of tonight. Two weeks later, if you look up and you've done that and taken care of "tonights" maybe you put that thought together. You can't sit there and say, 'Well, we're make up some ground here.' You might look up in two weeks and you'll be treading water."