Mark Buehrle is chasing not only the best start to a season in his 15-year career, but also the best in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The veteran left-hander looks to become the first in the majors with five victories when the Blue Jays open this three-game series with the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
Buehrle (4-0, 0.64 ERA) has won his first four starts to match a personal best from 2002, when he finished with a career-high 19 victories for the Chicago White Sox. He also joined Jimmy Key (1991), Pat Hentgen ('93) and Gustavo Chacin (2006) as the only Toronto pitchers to begin a season with four straight wins.
The 35-year-old has been nothing short of dominant, putting together the lowest ERA in baseball and getting 19 strikeouts against only five walks over 28 innings of work.
"I haven't changed anything in 10 or 11 years," Buehrle said. "I'm not going to keep asking questions. I'm going to go out there and run with it and see what happens."
Buehrle was outstanding again Saturday, yielding four hits in seven-plus innings of a 5-0 win at Cleveland.
"He's just locked in right now," manager Jay Gibbons told the team's official website. "He even admitted in spring training he hadn't felt this good in a long time. But he competes, he's a great competitor."
Buehrle has won his last two starts against the Red Sox (10-13), allowing two runs in 13 innings. He gave up one run and scattered 10 hits over seven innings of a 2-1 victory in Toronto on Aug. 15.
A similar outing could help the Blue Jays (11-11) avoid their first three-game slide after an 11-4 loss to Baltimore on Thursday.
Star shortstop Jose Reyes went 0 for 4 and is 5 for 24 (.208) with one double, one homer and four RBIs in five games since returning from a hamstring injury. Reyes is 0 for 13 over his last three at home against Boston after going 8 for 12 in the previous three.
The Red Sox have dropped three of four, thanks in large part to an overall 5.25 ERA and a 6.62 mark from the starting rotation.
The defense didn't do Felix Doubront any favors with a season-high five errors Thursday as he surrendered seven runs - three earned - before being pulled with two outs in the third inning of a 14-5 loss to the New York Yankees.
"Every team goes through slumps hitting, goes through slumps defensively," shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. "It's part of the game. We're definitely going to get better."
Jake Peavy (0-0, 3.33) takes the mound for Boston on Friday, his fifth chance to earn his first win. The veteran right-hander gave up season highs of five runs and 10 hits with five walks - one intentional - in 5 2-3 innings while not getting a decision in a 6-5 win over the Orioles on Sunday.
He had a 1.93 ERA over his first four outings, and perhaps a meeting with the Jays can get him untracked. Peavy has a 2.29 ERA while going 2-1 over his last five starts against them, but he was the hard-luck loser opposite Buehrle on Aug. 15. He allowed two runs in six innings, but the Red Sox went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Dustin Pedroia owns a .364 average in 33 at-bats against Buehrle after going 5 for 12 last year. He's entering this meeting 10 for 28 (.357) with five doubles in seven games.