All good things must come to an end. Whether they be two straight walk-off victories, Jon Lester‘s encouraging start to the second half, or both.
The Red Sox lost 7-6 in the series opener to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jon Lester was awful. Four and a third innings pitched, 11 hits (one being a two run homer by NL MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt), six earned runs. He did have six strikeouts though (would’ve traded three of them for three less runs and two more innings pitched).
Already trailing 7-6, the Sox tried to make it three straight walk offs in the ninth. Stephen Drew led off with a single (Very good line for him on the night: 2 for 2 with a home run, three RBI, one run scored, one walk, and a sacrifice fly). Brock Holt struck out after two failed bunt attempts (so when’s Xander Bogaerts coming up?). Jacoby Ellsbury singled to right field putting runners on first on second. That would be as close as they got however as Shane Victorino lined out to left field. Dustin Pedroia hit a comebacker to pitcher Brad Ziegler who made the easy toss to first to end the game.
Cody Ross has turned from 2012 fan favorite to villain these past 24 hours. Not so much for the damage he did on the night (4 for 5, a triple shy of the cycle, a home run, two doubles, a single, three RBI, two runs scored) but for the fact that he’s still pouting about the Red Sox decision to not bring him back for 2013. For the record: Ross had every right to go after the best deal for him and his family (he was one of the few bright spots to that 2012 team and was fun to watch). At the same time, the Red Sox had every right to pursue other players. Ross was an undervalued commodity in the 2011-2012 offseason. In 2012-2013 he was a tad overvalued. Remember, he was actually brought in to platoon in right field with Ryan Sweeney until Carl Crawford went on the DL. The Sox went with the same mind set to find a guy with both a similar skill set and similar price tag to the 2012 Ross and got that in Jonny Gomes.
Bottom line: Baseball’s a business. It’s a two way street. Ross needs to get over it. Especially since Arizona is close to his offseason home in New Mexico and he got the deal he wanted (three years guaranteed $26 million) AND a nice $9.5 million option for a fourth year. He also came into the series slugging .385 to Gomes’ .417 in 86 more plate appearances on the year.
Back to Lester. After acquiring another starting pitcher at the deadline, especially one who’s on contract for 2014, one would expect Lester to up his game even more. That didn’t happen. Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, and Clay Buchholz are all back next season. Not to mention all the prospects knocking on the door: Brandon Workman, Drake Britton, Allen Webster, Rubby DeLaRosa, Anthony Ranaudo (promoted to AAA today), Henry Owens (promoted to AA two days ago). The club holds a $13 million option on Lester for next season. Even with the other aforementioned names, you still can’t have enough pitching. But if Lester keeps being inconsistent, the Sox might be better off declining that option and using the extra $13 million to help fill another need.
Despite the loss, the Red Sox maintained a one game lead over Tampa Bay who lost to the San Francisco Giants tonight.
The Sox will turn to Jake Peavy to even the series in his Red Sox debut tomorrow afternoon. He’ll be opposed by lefty Patrick Corbin, who’s making a case for the NL Cy Young.