Jon Lester Serves Up Batting Practice in Heated Red Sox Loss


Through the first two innings Jon Lester was in complete control of the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out two and needing very few pitches to breeze into the third inning.  Then unfortunately, the third and fourth innings had to be played and those two frames proved to be the difference in the ball game, handing the Sox a tough 7-4 loss and once again dropping below .500.

After getting Elliot Johnson to ground out to lead off the third, Lester appeared to be again cruising through the inning.  Then a walk to Carlos Pena, a single to B.J. Upton and another walk to Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce took Lester deep to right center for a grand slam and ripping the hearts out of Red Sox Nation at the same time.  It was a crushing blow and Lester appeared to be rattled by it when the fourth rolled around.

With one on, Elliot Johnson again got to Lester for a two run homer to left center, a long, deep shot padding the Rays lead.  Not to be out done, Carlos Pena hit his sixth career homer off of Lester and provided back-to-back drama, only it was for the wrong side.  Lester would get out of the fourth without inflicting any more damage, but his best attempt to serve up batting practice was enough damage to put the Sox in a deep hole.  The final line on Lester is a disappointing one: 4.0IP, 6H, 7ER, 3BB and 4SO.  Another short outing this season and after two finer outings from Jon it was surprising to see him struggle on this night.  All his runs came via the long ball and despite a valiant effort from the Red Sox offense, it took just three pitches to change the outcome of the game; three pitches that Lester would love to have back.

On a more positive note, the Sox bullpen again shut down the opponents thanks to Scott Atchison, Matt Albers and Franklin Morales combining to work in the final five innings while giving up only 2 hits.  Tack another five innings to the bullpen’s workload this season, a continuous bright spot for the Sox.

Lester’s counterpart, Alex Cobb was sharp through his five innings of work, limiting the Sox to just 3 hits and 1 earned run.  He found trouble with his 4 walks that he issued but was able to limit the runs and work out of jams, handing the ball over to the bullpen who eventually locked down the win.

Not to be lost in the story line of the pitchers is the ninth inning donnybrook that started when Franklin Morales beaned Luke Scott that led to the benches clearing in what turned out to be a heated ordeal.  The odd thing about the fiasco was the Red Sox coaches were the most animated including Bobby Valentine and Tim Bogar.  None the less a lot of emotion was shown by the coaches and players, something that could unite this club as they continue to battle their way out of the AL East basement.

This type of emotion should have been shown a long time ago from this club and I’ve always said that these type of events always bring a club closer.  Luke Scott got what he deserved and let’s hope that this game serves as a rallying point for the remainder of the series for Boston, prompting them to play inspired baseball in an attempt to narrow the gap on Tampa Bay.  It’s clear that these two teams don’t like each other and well, I can’t help but admit my dislike for the Rays. Go Sox!