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That was a very strange game.

Jon Lester is the absolute man.  He’s basically the best lefty in the game.  He’s totally an ace.  At twenty-six years old, he’s accomplished more than some people do in their entire lifetimes.  As a pitcher, he already has a no-hitter to his credit.  It only made sense that a perfect game would follow, with a Cy Young after that.

And he almost had one.  He was bidding very actively for a perfect game into the sixth inning.  I’ve watched him pitch countless times, but this without a doubt was the best I’ve ever seen him pitch, ever.  It would have to be if he were bidding for perfection.

He took the hill and proceeded to retire his first sixteen batters.  His cut fastball was absolutely nasty.  Nobody was going to hit that.  Nobody was going to hit his curveball or changeup either.  He was incredibly crafty and had hitters completely fooled; eleven of the strikes he threw were swinging.  He threw thirteen pitches in the first and eight in the fifth.  He concentrated on the bottom half of the zone, controlled his movement, and was literally just owning all the action.  If Lester didn’t want it to happen in the game, it seemed like it just wasn’t going to happen.

Eric Patterson changed everything.  With one out in the sixth, Wilson hit your average fly ball.  Patterson had a long way to go to make the play, but he was absolutely one hundred percent in position to make the play.  And for some unexplainable reason that I’m sure is completely inadequate, Patterson dropped it.  He just dropped it.  An elite pitcher had a perfect game on the line and he just dropped it.  And Wilson took second base.  We know from experience that if you’re a pitcher in the middle of making history like this and you don’t have good D behind you, chances are you won’t make it after all.  Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz can tell you all about that.  And Patterson ruined the whole thing completely.  Seriously.  The entire game went downhill after that one colossal snafu.  I don’t even think I can describe the fury I experienced with actual words.

So that ruled out perfection.  The no-hitter and the lead were both destroyed in the very next at-bat, when Saunders hit a hanging breaking ball out of the park.  That wasn’t a great pitch to call in that situation, so while it’s true that Lester didn’t locate the pitch well, Cash probably shouldn’t have called for it and Lester.  They had been feeding Saunders a steady diet of fastballs, so naturally he would have been lying in wait for something off-speed.

Suddenly we were…losing?

It would only get even worse.  Lester stayed in almost through the eighth inning, which was our final blow.  A sacrifice, a double, and a hit batsman scored three.  He issued his lone walk of the night in that inning as well.  We lost, 5-1, the one run courtesy of a homer by Papi in the fourth.  Delcarmen recorded the final out.

He gave up all of Seattle’s runs on four hits.  He walked one and striking out a whopping thirteen batters, a new career high and the most in a game by a Boston southpaw since Bruce Hurst K’ed fourteen Athletics on May 5, 1987.  He threw a grand total of 124 pitches, eighty of which were strikes.  That’s a ton.  Among Major League lefties, he’s sixth in ERA, third in innings pitched, tied for second in wins, second in WHIP, and first in strikeouts.  And he ended up with the loss.  I ask you: where is the justice? There is absolutely no justice in that whatsoever.  Eric Patterson should take the loss, but there is no way on this Earth that Jon Lester deserves a loss after a start like that.  Absolutely no way.  I can understand if a pitcher can’t quite eke out a perfect game.  I can understand if a pitcher gives up a hit at the last minute.  But I can’t understand how a pitcher nursing both bids can end up losing.

And it just goes to show you how valuable Pedroia, V-Mart, and Ellsbury really are.  The offense has not been performing well lately.  We’ve either squandered all of our opportunities or we haven’t even given ourselves opportunities to squander.  It’s terrible.  And last night’s contest highlights it in the extreme; we were down by four and couldn’t even muster five runs to earn the win for a pitcher who deserved it and more.  That’s bad.  That’s really bad.  Luckily, V-Mart could return as early as Monday, but still I’d rather be cautious and have him healthy for the long haul than bring him back early and have him fail down the stretch as a result.  On the bright side, we have a chance to win this series with Dice-K on the mound.  Hopefully he’ll continue his positive trend and earn a win if he pitches well.

Reuters Photo
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