Posts Tagged ‘Jon Lester’

This was an epic week.  It was an epic, epic week.

Last Saturday, we bested the Other Sox in a big way.  Peavy pitched seven innings and gave up only two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out four; Breslow pitched the eighth, and Britton pitched the ninth.  Those two runs were the result of a single-force out combination in the third and a single-single combination in the fourth.  But we scored more.  In the first, Ellsbury singled and scored on a single by Napoli.  Napoli and Gomes hit back-to-back doubles in the third.  And two singles, a double, two groundouts, and another single yielded another three runs in the fourth.  Gomes singled and scored on a single by Bogaerts in the fifth.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases in the sixth, and a wild pitch brought in the game’s last run for a final score of 7-2.

We managed to walk away with a win last Sunday as well.  Doubront gave up four runs on seven hits in less than four innings of work, and the rest of the game was pitched by Workman, who got the win, as well as Morales, Tazawa, Breslow, and Uehara, who got the save.  Workman and Breslow each allowed one run of their own, but fortunately, yet again we scored more.  Carp singled, Salty walked, and both scored on a single by Ellsbury in the second; Victorino and Pedroia both walked, and Ellsbury and Victorino scored on a double by Papi.  Drew hit a solo shot in the third.  And Ellsbury walked and scored on a single by Pedroia in the fourth with a little help from a throwing error.

We began our series with Detroit on Monday with a loss, which was unfortunate because Lackey pitched really well, giving up only three runs in over seven innings of work.  We lost because we got shut out.  Again.  It was just one of those days where good pitching happened to coincide with bad, or in this case nonexistent, hitting.

Tuesday’s game went a lot better; good pitching coincided with good pitching, and a lack of hitting coincided with a lack of hitting, but we did that much better to pull it off.  Specifically, we did one run better, winning by a final score of 2-1.  The game was literally won in the fifth inning, when Gomes singled, Drew doubled, and both scored on a single by Middlebrooks.  Lester gave up only one run in seven innings, and the relief corps, featuring appearances by four pitchers, held it together.

But I have to say that the highlight of this past week was unquestionably our epic victory over the Tigers on Wednesday, during which we scored a whopping twenty runs.  That’s right.  We won by a score of 20-4.  Let me repeat that.  We won by a score of 20-4.  Wow.  With that run total alone, we could have won every game for at least a week.  Dempster started that one and gave up those four runs in his six innings; Workman, Morales, and De La Rosa each pitched an inning after that.  But that offensive performance was supremely epic.  Epic, epic, epic.  The only member of the starting lineup not to have gotten at least one hit was Pedroia, and even he managed to bat in a run.  We put twenty-five base runners on the field that day, and only five did not step on home plate.  The only inning in which we didn’t score was the first.  In the second, Nava singled and Drew homered.  In the third, Ellsbury homered.  Papi led off the fourth with a homer.  Victorino singled and scored on Pedroia’s sac fly in the fifth.  And then came the sixth, which was one of the biggest and most massive innings I have ever seen.  We scored eight runs in the sixth inning alone; that’s more than we’ve scored in some games and even over the course of several games combined.  It was absolutely amazing.  First, Nava walked, Napoli doubled, and Drew walked intentionally to load the bases with nobody out.  Then Carp came in to pinch-hit and ended up walking, which scored a run.  Then Detroit made a pitching change, and Middlebrooks proceeded to welcome the new pitcher to the game by going hard on the second pitch of the at-bat for a grand slam.  Yeah.  A grand slam.  Like I said, it was epic.  Then Ellsbury struck out, Victorino got hit, Pedroia struck out, Papi doubled in another run, and Nava’s homer accounted for another two.  Like I said, it was epic.  We followed our eight-run sixth with a five-run seventh.  Drew doubled, and then Middlebrooks was awarded the home run that he deserved after a review.  Then Middlebrooks doubled and scored on a single by Quintin Berry, who came in to pinch-run for Victorino in the previous inning.  And then Papi homered for another two runs.  And then Napoli led off the eighth with a homer.  Those eight home runs in a single game, a feat previously achieved in 1977, tied a club record.  It was the first time any team had done it since 2010.  (Interestingly, we played the Blue Jays in that ’77 game, and it was the Blue Jays who did it in 2010.) It was also a banner day for Papi, who collected his two thousandth hit in the process and who deserved every second of the standing ovation that he received.  He also passed Billy Williams for forty-seventh on the all-time homer list.

We carried that offensive momentum with us right into our next win.  We started our series with the Evil Empire on Thursday, and the final score was 9-8.  Peavy gave up four runs in six innings, Thornton gave up another two, and Tazawa blew his save by giving up another two.  Then Breslow was awarded the win, and Uehara was awarded the save.  We needed ten innings to get it done, but the fact that we got it done was the greatest part.  Lavarnway and Middlebrooks led off the third with a pair of singles, and Lavarnway scored on a double by Ellsbury while Middlebrooks scored on a groundout by Victorino.  Middlebrooks homered in the fourth.  Victorino led off the fifth with a homer; then, Pedroia, Papi, and Nava loaded the bases with nobody out with two singles and a walk.  Pedroia scored on a single by Napoli, and Papi scored on a force out by Lavarnway.  Nava doubled and scored on a single by Lavarnway in the seventh.  The bottom of the seventh was an enormous mess, during which the blown save occurred; fortunately, with two out in the ninth, Napoli singled and scored on a single by Drew.  With one out in the tenth, Ellsbury singled, stole second, and scored the winning run on a single by Victorino.

The same good things can be said about Friday’s game, which, thanks in large part to the Yankees’ bullpen, we won, 9-8.  Doubront himself actually gave up six runs on six walks and three hits, one of which was a home run.  But our bullpen held it together.  Meanwhile, Napoli led off the second with a single and scored on a single by David Ross.  Napoli led off the fourth with a double and scored on a groundout by Drew.  Middlebrooks led off the fifth with a solo shot.  And then we scored another five runs in the seventh inning alone, during which the Yanks went through three pitching changes.  Ross singled, Middlebrooks flied out, Victorino singled, and Carp walked to load the bases.  Pedroia singled in Ross, which kept the bases loaded, and after Papi struck out, Napoli worked the count full after receiving seven pitches but went yard in a huge way on the eighth pitch, delivering an enormously massive grand slam.  I can’t even describe the awesomeness of it all.  And we weren’t even done.  With one out in the eighth, Middlebrooks singled and then Victorino homered them both in.  Carp singled, Pedroia grounded out, and Papi and Napoli each walked.  Nava walked in one run, and Drew singled in another.

Yesterday, we enjoyed yet another high scoring performance, winning 13-9.  Lackey lasted less than six innings and gave up seven runs on eight hits, and then Britton, one of four relievers that we had to sent out, allowed two runs of his own.  But, in keeping with the week’s theme, we scored more.  Papi led off the second with a double, and Napoli followed with a home run.  Bogaerts led off the third with a double, Victorino got hit, and then it was Gomes who homered.  We had four straight scoring plays in the fourth, after Middlebrooks and Bradley led it off with two singles: Lavarnway doubled, Bogaerts grounded out, Victorino doubled, and Gomes singled.  And then Pedroia doubled and Papi hit a sac fly.  Each of those scoring plays accounted for one run.  Bradley walked in the fifth, and one out later, Bogaerts hit a two-run shot.  And then Napoli homered in the ninth.

We played very well yesterday also, but it wasn’t good enough.  This one was evenly matched, but the wrong team came out on top.  Lester turned in a quality start, giving up only three runs over the course of eight innings.  But they just scored one more run than we did.  Papi and Carp led off the second with back-to-back doubles that accounted for our first run, and Papi doubled and scored on Salty’s groundout in the sixth.  And then Middlebrooks delivered in a big way, smacking a game-tying solo shot to lead off the ninth.  But Workman’s not-so-excellent work in the bottom of the inning did us in.  He looked great at first, but between the first two outs of the frame, he allowed a single, which became important when he issued a wild pitch that brought the runner in.  And so we lost, 4-3.

And, as if our awesome performances were not awesome enough, we find ourselves in first place in the AL East, eight and a half games above Tampa Bay.  (The Yankees, might I add, are eleven games out of first, which is good for fourth in our division, and at this moment, they are not even in the running for the Wild Card.) We also have the best winning percentage in the entire Major Leagues.  And that’s a great place to be.

In other news, the Patriots played the first regular-season game of the year yesterday! We beat the Bills, 23-21, in a real nailbiter that went right down to the wire.  We went 3-1 in preseason, beating the Eagles, 31-22, and then the Buccaneers, 25-21, and after losing to the Lions, 40-9, which was especially scathing, we beat the Giants, 28-20.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis

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There was no perfectly placed, perfectly timed pinch-hit single last night.  Last night, it was just the usual.  There were no special moments and no heroics.  And ultimately we lost because we didn’t play the ordinary game as well as Baltimore played it.  As evenly matched as we were, we were outscored.  And that’s how games are won, or rather, in this case, lost.

Neither team scored in the first, but we were the first to get on the board when Nava led off the second with a double and scored two outs later on a single by Drew.  Lester, however, gave our one-run lead to Baltimore by allowing two runs in the third.  He gave up a double that at least set the runner back at first on a fielder’s choice after the next at-bat.  Then he issued a walk followed by a bases-clearing double.  He made it worse when he gave up a walk followed by an RBI double in the fifth.

Victorino single-handedly brought Baltimore’s lead back down to one by smacking a solo shot toward the Monster to lead off the sixth.  That was huge.  In a low-scoring game, that run counted for a lot.

Lester’s start stopped at six innings; Thornton came on for the seventh, put two on base, and managed not to allow any runs.  Workman pitched the eighth, and he and Breslow shared the ninth.  As for the offense, that second run proved to be our last, and we lost, 3-2.

Boston Globe Staff/Matthew J. Lee

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It was nice not to get shut out, it was nicer to win, and it was really nice to see Lester back to his old self again.  I don’t know what the next start will bring, but I think the positive trend he’s been on lately is really a sight for sore eyes.  He looks comfortable and at ease, which is a very good sign.  Here’s to hoping he keeps it up.

Lester was winning yesterday, both literally and figuratively.  He pitched seven and a third innings and gave up only one run on only three hits while walking only four.  And striking out six.  And he got the win, obviously.  He went one-two-three in the first and second.  He probably would have gone one-two-three in the third had Napoli not made a throwing error.  He gave up a hit and a walk in the fourth and went one-two-three in the fifth and sixth.  He gave up another hit and a walk in the seventh

Meanwhile, our big inning was the first.  It was awesome.  We were batting first, of course, so it meant that we won the game before the Dodgers even sent their first batter to the plate.  Yeah, we’re that good.

Ellsbury led off the game by grounding out, but then Victorino got hit, Pedroia singled, Victorino scored on a single by Napoli, and Gomes hit an absolutely huge home run on his first pitch of the game.  Seriously.  It was a ninety-mile-per-hour fastball, and he just clocked it all the way to left center field.  Ultimately, that ball stood no chance of staying inside the park.  In short, it was awesome.

And then we spent the rest of the game doing nothing.  To be honest, it’s a good thing Lester was as good as he was yesterday, because on another day our four runs may not have been enough to get the job done.

Our next rally came all the way in the eighth, when Victorino grounded out, Pedroia doubled, Napoli singled, Gomes popped out, and Drew walked to load the bases.  But Middlebrooks ended the threat when he struck out looking.

The eighth inning was also when Lester got into trouble, if you could call it that.  He was relieved after he secured the inning’s first out and issued a walk.  The problem was that our relievers allowed inherited runners to score.  Tazawa came on after that and gave up a single before securing the inning’s second out.  And then Breslow came on and gave up a two-run double.  So, yes, Lester was credited with a run, and so was Tazawa.  But looking at the situation beyond the numbers, I’d say it was really Breslow’s fault.

Uehara pitched the rest of the eighth and picked up a save after his stellar ninth.  The final score was a winning 4-2.

Reuters Photo

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We needed this win.  I don’t enjoy losing, and I especially don’t enjoy losing to the Yankees.  So when I saw us dominate yesterday, not only in terms of pitching but also in terms of hitting, I was very pleased indeed.  There’s nothing like an invigorating stint with a National League team to get your victory going.

Lester faced the minimum through three and gave up his first hit, a single, in the fourth.  He had a couple of baserunners in the fifth but held firm.

Salty led off the second with a single, Nava walked, and Drew singled to load the bases.  Just like that.  And of all of the reactions that Middlebrooks could have had to that situation at the plate, he hit a sac fly.  It scored one run, but come on.  When the bases are loaded with nobody out, there are so many other cooler, better, and more productive things to do than hit a sac fly.  It was better than nothing.  So was the balk that Lester ended up working, scoring yet another run.  That was pretty awesome.  And then Victorino singled in the inning’s third run before Pedroia flied out to end it.  So it wasn’t exactly a bases-clearing triple, and it wasn’t exactly flashy or what you’d expect with the bases loaded.  But by the end of the inning, we had the bases cleared.

We added insurance in the fifth; with two out, Nava singled and scored on a double by Drew.  Ellsbury singled to lead off the sixth, moved to second when Victorino got hit and third when Pedroia grounded into a double play, and scored on a wild pitch.  Even down to the wire, we hadn’t finished scoring; Pedroia tripled in the ninth and scored on a double by Salty.

In the end, Lester was just two outs shy of going the distance.  He dealt with two on in the sixth, one on in the seventh, and one on in the eighth.  After he induced a flyout to lead off the ninth, he gave up two consecutive singles and was replaced by Workman, who ended the game with two K’s.  But what a start! He was rewarded for his incredible effort with a well-deserved win; he pitched eight and one-third innings of shutout ball, giving up six hits and two walks while striking out three.  Meanwhile, our hit total was double that.  Against Lester the Giants’ batters never even had a chance.  Winning seven-zip was easy all the way through, and Lester looked like his old self again.

Getty Images

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On Tuesday we got it done in extras; last night we weren’t so fortunate.  This one lasted one less inning, and we scored one less run.  Coincidence? I think not.

In the end, Lester pitched six and one-third innings and gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits while walking two and striking out three.  He issued a walk in the first and another one in the second.  Then with two out in the third, a total debacle of a play resulted in Lester’s first run, which should have been classified as doubly unearned, if such a classification existed.  He gave up a single that turned into a run when he and Victorino each made a separate throwing error.  The ball hit Lester in the leg, and he tried to corral it and get it to Victorino.  The ball rolled along the right field line, and Victorino got it and fired.  Badly.  It was absolutely awful.  Thanks to these displays of truly abysmal fielding, what should have been just a single became instead what was essentially in practice an inside-the-park  home run.

Then in the fourth Lester gave up another run after a double-double combination.  He gave up another double in the fifth, and another run scored thanks to another double-double combination in the sixth.  He led off the seventh with a fielding error that put a runner on first before striking out his second batter and getting lifted in favor of Workman.  So, yes, Lester put at least one runner on base during every one of his innings.

Workman pitched the rest of the game.  And he was lights-out for most of it.  He seems to come more and more into his own with every additional inning he pitches.  And he did an excellent job yesterday.  If only he could have held on just a little bit longer.

Meanwhile, we went down in order three times: in the fourth, seventh, and eighth.  Other than those two innings, we put men on base and had a few different scoring opportunities from which to choose.  If we’d taken advantage of at least one more of those, perhaps the game would have ended differently.

We finally got on the board when Papi hit a solo shot in the sixth.  Pedroia had struck out, and the count was full.  He’d taken a two-seam for a ball, a slider for a strike, a two-seam for a ball, a slider for a strike, and a curveball for a ball.  Then he got another slider, but this one wasn’t so great, and Papi read it like a book.

Next, it was Napoli’s turn.  With one out in the ninth, Gomes walked, and with two out, Napoli hit a two-run homer on his second pitch.  Both of them were sinkers; he took the first one for a ball and uncorked enough power on the second one to send it beyond the right field fence.  Then Middlebrooks got hit and Ellsbury singled to load the bases with two out.  Talk about prime scoring opportunities.  But the Jays made a pitching change, and unfortunately this one did not work in our favor.

In the bottom of the tenth, he gave up a double, induced a groundout, and issued an intentional walk.  His baserunner stole second and then scored on a single, and that was the end of that right there.  The final score was 4-3.

Reuters Photo

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We did not open this series on a positive note.  We managed to avoid the shutout but the fact remains that we ultimately lost.  I was very excited about Lester’s start.  He gave up three runs, only one earned, on four hits while walking two and striking out four over seven innings.  He threw 121 pitches.  So obviously it was an excellent start, one that’s reminiscent of his old self.  To get there, obviously he’ll have to turn up the strikeouts and turn down the number of pitches, but still.

Lester had a bad first and was right solid for the entire rest of his start.  He gave up a double followed by a groundout, and he issued a walk, and then he allowed a sac fly.  But then Gomes made a fielding error, and a run scored, and a batter popped up, and he gave up another walk, and he gave up a single that resulted in two more runs scoring.  So he only gave up one earned run.  So technically it shouldn’t have been as bad as all that.  And even if it had to be as bad as all that, it wasn’t actually that bad.  He gave up three runs.  We should have been able to power through that without a problem.  Especially because he righted himself almost immediately.  It was surreal how well he pitched after the first.  Only in the fifth and seventh did he face more than the minimum.

Unfortunately, our hitters were lucky just to collect three hits.  Fortunately, we managed to save a little dignity by avoiding yet another shutout.  In the ninth inning, the same inning that was our salvation on Wednesday, Gomes doubled and scored on a single by Drew.  So it wasn’t a home run.  And even if it was, two runs wouldn’t have helped if we didn’t follow it up with at least four more.

Because, to make matters worse, De La Rosa came on in the eighth and made matters worse.  His first pitch of the game was hit for a solo shot.  Two outs later, he gave up another solo shot.

So the final score was 5-1 and we lost.

AP Photo

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There was no miracle in the cards for us yesterday.  We scored the same amount of runs during the entire game that we scored on Thursday in the ninth inning alone.  And it wasn’t enough.  I have to say that it was Lester’s fault.  We shouldn’t have to be in a situation where six runs is not enough.

I really thought that Lester was starting to turn the corner.  His last few starts have been less mediocre than usual.  And then he goes and tanks like this.  He gave up six runs on eleven hits over four and one-third innings.  He didn’t walk anybody, and he did strike out six, but that doesn’t change the fact that he exited very early because he just didn’t have any control.

It started early.  He got his first batter to line out, but then he gave up a single followed by a home run.  He didn’t allow any runs in the second, but after striking out his first batter in the third, he gave up a double followed by an RBI single.  He went one-two-three in the fourth, his best inning.  The fifth inning was really bad though.  He gave up a double, induced a groundout, and then allowed three consecutive scoring plays: two doubles and a single that scored three runs total.

That was when Thornton came on and ended the inning.  He also pitched the sixth.  Beato gave up a solo shot to lead off the seventh that managed to withstand review.  He and Tazawa combined for a one-two-three eighth and a solid ninth.

The offense put up a great fight, I have to say.  Ellsbury led off the first with a triple, and two outs later, Papi went yard on his first pitch of the game.  He hit it all the way to center field, and it was huge and awesome.  We kept it up in the second; Nava reached on a throwing error, Salty doubled, and then Drew and Holt both hit back-to-back sac flies that scored two.  We went down in order in the third, and we had the bases loaded in the fourth with one out, but the inning ended with nothing to show for the opportunity.  We went down in order in the fifth again, and in the sixth we had a repeat performance of the first.  Napoli singled, and two outs later, Drew went yard on his second pitch of the at-bat, also hit all the way to center field.

And that was it.  We lost by a score of 7-6.  That’s a tough one to lose.  We really mixed it up, using a combination of both the long ball and the small ball to put together solid run support for Lester.  But it really just wasn’t enough.

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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