I don’t know what it’s going to take to get Lester out of his slump and back to his old self. I really don’t. We’ve seen this from him before, though. Sometimes he just gets into these ruts where he looks so mediocre and ill at ease. He can’t put the movement he wants on the cut fastball, he can’t keep his pitch count down, and he just can’t really fool the batters he faces. Fortunately, the fact that we’ve seen this from him before means that, eventually, he’ll come out of it. But I just wonder what it’s going to take to make that happen.
He only lasted five innings and gave up five runs on nine hits while walking zero and striking out eight. He just didn’t have that Lester-esque quality that makes him able to also keep his hit count, and therefore run count, sufficiently low. And he was inefficient; he threw a lot of pitches for only five innings of work. 105 pitches should have gotten him at least past the seventh inning.
He gave up a single to lead off the third and then secured the inning’s first two outs. But then he gave up an RBI double followed by a two-run home run. In the fifth, he gave up a double followed by an RBI single that turned into a triple thanks to a throwing error by Carp. Two strikeouts later, it turned into a run thanks to another double.
Pedro Beato pitched the sixth, Tazawa and Miller pitched the seventh, and Miller took care of the eighth. Tazawa had given up another run thanks to a double, a sac bunt, and a single.
But even if he hadn’t given up that run, all else being equal, we still would have lost. We didn’t even score until the seventh. We had two baserunners in the third and sixth. We had one in the fifth, but it ended up being a one-two-three inning anyway thanks to a double play. With one out in the seventh, Carp doubled, Salty singled, and Middlebrooks hit a huge home run. It was a four-pitch at-bat, and he got four straight four-seam fastballs. He took the first one for a strike and the next two for balls. And the fourth one ended up beyond the fence in right field. Two straight outs ended the inning after that. And we had one baserunner in the eighth and none in the ninth.
So it’s not like we didn’t have opportunities. We did have opportunities. But we didn’t have that many, and we basically ignored the ones that we did have. Except for one brief, shining moment, it was like our offense was, well, off.
We collected only six hits to Baltimore’s fourteen, and we lost, 6-3.