Lester had his first bad start in a while. It was probably his worst start since last year. But it was one of those bad starts where a bad start by Lester is a great start for most pitchers on most teams. It wasn’t a quality start, but comparatively speaking, it would only be considered a bad start if we were to lose. It’s funny how that works.
The Jays struck first. Lester began with a groundout on three pitches, a sufficient start indeed. But then he gave up a walk followed by an RBI double. Neither team scored in the second, but Lester had a horrible third. He gave up a single, hit a batter, and issued a walk. Then Salty tried to lessen the load by picking one off, but it only served to allow a run to score, as the throw was erroneous. It was an awful, awful play to witness. Awful. Two quick outs later, Lester gave up another RBI double.
He had a one-two-three fourth and a two-run-homer fifth; Lester gave up a single to lead it off, got an out, and threw a big mistake of a fastball. And he had a one-two-three sixth.
All told, Lester lasted six innings. He gave up six runs on six hits while walking two and striking out five. So his strikeout count was low and his hit count was high. He threw one hundred pitches, which is his usual count after at least one inning more. Basically, he had trouble finding the strike zone. That didn’t turn into a high walk count; it just turned into a handful of hits and runs and balls. So it’s like I said. Great game if you win or if you’re used to a lot worse. Not-so-great game if you’re Jon Lester.
We were down by four by the fourth, when we finally scored. And we scored in a big way. Papi was first up. He took a ninety-four mile-per-hour four-seam for a strike. Then he got a ninety-five mile-per-hour four-seam and took the cover off it. Or at least that’s what it looked like would happen when he unleashed his epic swing on it and buried it in center field. Then Napoli struck out; you’d think it would have been him who continued the rally. But it was Carp, who’s been quietly having quite the offensive stretch. He took an eighty-four mile-per-hour splitter for a ball and then crushed an eighty-nine mile-per-hour slider for the second solo shot of the frame. His ended up beyond the fence in right center field.
The fifth began with back-to-back singles by Drew and Ellsbury; one out later, Drew scored on a single by Pedroia. Gomes got in on the power action in the sixth; with a 2-2 count, Gomes got a two-seam he liked and unleashed, sending the ball out to left center. It was all Papi again in the seventh; after Drew struck out, Ellsbury singled, Nava reached on a force attempt, and Pedroia walked. Papi then hit a bases-clearing double. It wasn’t a home run, but the effect was remarkably similar.
At the time, this allowed us to pull ahead, and things were looking good. But then Tazawa pitched the seventh and didn’t do so well himself. The first two outs of the inning went well, but then he issued a walk followed by a home run of his own that, at the time, put the Jays back on top. See, this is exactly what I’m talking about. How often have I said that relievers should be wary of making mistakes when we’re winning because, at some point, it’s bound to happen when the game is on the line. Last night, the game was on the line. The odds of Lester and Tazawa both having mediocre performances during the same game were obviously pretty close to nonexistent, but during such a long season, at some point everything happens. And it happened yesterday.
Twice. Hanrahan came back. But it wasn’t good. He gave up a single, a successful sac bunt, and another single deflected by Pedroia, which allowed the runner to score. Meanwhile, we’d been coming up empty since the seventh. Seven runs should be more than enough to win any game, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the damage done by the pitchers. We lost, 9-7. So much for our five-game winning streak.
In other news, the Bruins lost to the Sens, 4-2.