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Tough night for Lester from the get-go

08.20.10 at 11:24 pm ET
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Victor Martinez had never seen anything like it.

Jon Lester, arguably the ace of the Red Sox staff, started with warm-up pitches that couldn’t find their mark, and proceeded to carry the inconsistency into his start against the Blue Jays. The result wasn’t pretty, with the lefty giving up nine runs on eight hits over two innings on the way to a 16-2 Red Sox loss to the Blue Jays, Friday night at Fenway Park.

“I kind of knew it was going to be a tough night,” Martinez said. “I saw in the bullpen he didn’t have any command. I was just watching him throw in the bullpen that he was having a really tough time throwing the ball like he is used to throwing it. Unfortunately he took it into the game.”

In all the times Martinez had caught Lester (this being the 15th occasion the battery teamed up), the catcher had never seen anything like it.

“No. First time,” said Martinez when asked about the image of Lester struggling from Pitch No. 1. “It was pretty hard. It is what it is, one of those days.”

Lester, who saw his ERA go from 2.80 to 3.26, commented that he had “worse bullpens and actually thrown a no-hitter.” The problem was that this time the issue never corrected itself. So much so that it became perhaps the worst start of the pitcher’s career. It was the shortest outing for Lester, and a start in which he surrendered a career-high in runs (surpassing eight given up on May 9, 2009 vs. Tampa Bay). The 53 pitches were also career-low for any start throughout the hurler’s career.

“I didn’t really have anything from Pitch 1,” Lester admitted. “Dug myself a hole. Couldn’t get out of it … Go through stretches like that. [There have been] starts I’ve had worse.”

This time there was no mistaking the fact that Lester was struggling. He allowed Toronto to jump out of the gate with a five-spot in the first inning, the sixth time he’s allowed as many runs in a single inning. It was the first time such a disaster has occurred in the first inning.

“Happens to everybody sometimes. You have to sit there and take it,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “Just a bad night all the way around.”

Closing Time: Blue Jays 16, Red Sox 2

08.20.10 at 10:17 pm ET
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Well, that might be finally it for the 2010 Red Sox.

So many times this season, observers have written the team off when they suffered injury after debilitating injury and had bullpen meltdowns that left everyone scratching their heads.

But Friday, like when the outcome of a court case becomes obvious because of overwhelming evidence, Friday night’s 16-2 debacle at the hands of the Blue Jays is exhibit A as to why these Red Sox are pretty much toast as far as a playoff contender.

True, there’s five weeks left and stranger things have happened but with Dustin Pedroia going back on the disabled list before Friday’s nightmare with the Blue Jays with a foot that he admits is still hurting him badly, there seems to be little energy left to give.

And then there’s the troubling case of Jon Lester. He came out Friday and had the worst outing of his career, allowing eight hits and a career-worst nine runs and couldn’t get an out in the third before being yanked for Scott Atchison. He allowed two homers to Lyle Overbay, walked three and struck out just one.

[Click here to listen to Jon Lester talk about his rough night.]

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX:

Jon Lester continues to look alarmingly hittable. Never before had the left-hander looked so ordinary. The only other start that compares to Friday came on May 9, 2009 against Tampa Bay when the Rays beat Lester and the Red Sox, 14-5. That night he allowed 10 hits and eight runs. But he recovered the rest of the season to post a 15-8 record with a 3.41 ERA. After 14 1/3 innings of shutout pitching against the Yankees and Rangers, two great-hitting teams, Lester seemed to be back on track since losing his first four starts after the All-Star break.

But when Fred Lewis walked and Yunel Escobar reached on a bunt single, even the outs were loud, that is when Lester could record them.

And maybe worst of all, Lester couldn’t stabilize himself after giving up five in the first. Normally, Lester is capable of settling down and giving the team innings. He couldn’t even do that Friday as he lasted just 51 pitches before the Red Sox bullpen was called upon.

Lyle Overbay. Goes without saying that if an opponent has two home 3-run homers and drives in a career-high seven, you’re probably into the bullpen earlier than you want.

John McDonald and John Buck: McDonald, the pride of Providence College, went 3-for-5 with with a 3-run homer off Michael Bowden in the sixth. Buck picked the right night to come off the disabled list. He, like Overbay, had four hits and scored four times.

The Red Sox didn’t show Dustin Pedroia much of a reason to hurry back. It was announced before the game that the gritty second baseman was going back on the DL because his broken left foot hadn’t healed completely and was hurting too much.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX:

The kids are alright. Starting with Yamaico Navarro, a lot of back-ups and call-ups got their chance to give the vets a night off and showed they cared. Navarro, taking Pedroia’s roster spot, borrowed a page from Daniel Nava, swinging at the first pitch he saw in the majors. While it wasn’t a grand slam or even a homer, it was a sharp single to left, joining Nava and Ryan Kalish as Red Sox rookies to produce a hit in their first MLB at-bats this season.

Terry Francona got one wish. The Red Sox manager said before the game he’d like to get a look at Jed Lowrie at first base to see if he might be able to provide some versatility to a roster that could use some with Pedroia joining Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury on the disabled list. Beginning with the fifth inning, Lowrie moved to first base and handled every chance smoothly.

Read More: john buck, Jon Lester, Lyle Overbay, Red Sox

Clemens on The Big Show: ‘In time, we’ll get to have our say’

08.20.10 at 6:15 pm ET
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Roger Clemens (AP)

Major league pitching legend Roger Clemens, who was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on charges of lying to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, joined Glenn Ordway and Lou Merloni on The Big Show Friday to lend his support to the WEEI Jimmy Fund radio-telethon.

Clemens said he was not surprised at the indictment, and he remained adamant that he will assert his innocence when the case goes to trial. “In time, we’ll get to have our say,” the former Red Sox star said.

Following are highlights from the interview. To hear the interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

I won’t ask you how you are. I’ve been reading about you.

Well, I can’t really control that. But you can ask me how I’m am. I’m doing fine.

Were you floored at what happened yesterday? Were you expecting what happened yesterday? Was it a surprise to you?

It really wasn’t a surprise. I mean, I got my eyes opened up quite a bit when we went in there and the things that we went through before. I’ve got a great [legal] team. And like I said, guys, I sent it out in a tweet. I thought that was the best way to go about it — I’m getting up to date on all this high-tech stuff [laughter] — so I sent it out there. I thought it would be best because I knew people would want to hear from me. It stinks to be on the other end of some things or be quiet. But we’ll get to have our say, like we said now, and like I said. Friends and our family are doing well. You can’t believe how many phone calls. You know, I’m very thankful for that.

Like I said, for my situation, guys, what I do, because I love to do it, as far as the Jimmy Fund and the things that we do … The best way I can explain it [is] I think most of the people that do know me — I know there’s a lot of people that say they know me and they speak on my behalf and they really don’t take the time to get to know you. But the things that I enjoy doing [I do] it. Or I wouldn’t do it. I came from nothing. That’s the way our family was brought up. Now that I’ve made it, I always try to make a point to help others. I enjoy doing it or I wouldn’t do it. Baseball is what I did. It’s not who I am. When I was on the field, Lord knows I’m a fierce competitor. That’s the way I go about my work, because I have a lot of people counting on me to get out there and do well, and obviously pride.

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Read More: Red Sox, Roger Clemens, the Jimmy Fund,

Pedroia: ‘It was pretty much impossible to keep playing’

08.20.10 at 4:14 pm ET
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[WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia spoke 1-on-1 with Dustin Pedroia about his latest setback, a second trip to the DL.]

The Red Sox have placed second baseman Dustin Pedroia on the 15-day disabled list due to continued soreness in his left foot, calling up Yamaico Navarro.

Pedroia played in just two games since coming off the DL after recovering from a broken navicular bone in his foot, suffered on June 25 on a foul ball in San Francisco. Pedroia had played in two rehab games with Triple A Pawtucket over the weekend, showing no ill-effects after playing in the field on Saturday and serving as the PawSox’ designated hitter Sunday. He noted, however, that after Wednesday night’s game he experienced significant pain, not being able to get to sleep until 4 a.m.

“Today it’s hurting when I walk,” Pedroia noted. “So I guess the best thing to do is not do anything and let it heal … After the second day it was pretty much impossible to keep playing. I have to let it heal. It’s not fun.”

Pedroia was urged to be upfront with the Red Sox and team medical director Tom Gill in this case because all parties want to avoid a weakening of the healing in his left foot that could result in surgery.

“He woke up and he was pretty tender so we sent him over to see Tom to have a scan,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona in announcing Pedroia’s setback on Friday afternoon. “And while it showed really good healing, it also showed there’s some healing to go. In layman’s terms, they tried to impress upon him a lot that if it hurt, you better tell us because you’re then you’re going to hurt yourself.

“We appreciate him trying to play because he’s really good. At the same time, and I know it’s hard for good players to be honest, but if he goes out there and hurts it, then we’re looking at something we don’t want to look at, and that’s a surgery and things like that so that’s sort of where we are.”

Pedroia was checked out by the Red Sox’ team medical staff, along with getting consultation from Dr. Lewis Yocum, before the team decided to place him on the DL. He noted that there was no additional damage found with the injury, but rather that it simply hadn’t fully healed.

“I knew it was going to be chance if I came back at played and it didn’t do well I would be out,” Pedroia said. “I knew that. They told me that. It just sucked that it happened. I figured I would play a couple days and if I would be sore I would have a day of two off and be fine. But that’s really not the way it’s working out right now.”

Pedroia said that he understands the reason for the approach going forward, taking into consideration what could happen if there is another setback.

“I have to make sure I’m OK. If I hurt myself bad it won’t only mess me up next year but it could mess me up for my career,” he said. “Hopefully I won’t do that.”

He also noted that he wasn’t sure if he would be out for the year.

“I don’t know,” Pedroia said. “I’ve seen so many doctors I’m kind of seeing everybody. I hope not.”

Here are more comments from Pedroia:

(On if he came back to early): “I don’t know, maybe. I played two games and it didn’t feel very well. I guess it’s part of the process with this kind injury.”

(On the disappointment): “I’m upset. I feel like I let everybody down. I can’t really do much. I tried. Hopefully it heals up and get back in there.”

(On if there is any additional damage): “From what they told me it’s not all the way heal so it’s going to hurt, and that’s at risk for other things. That’s why they kind of shut me down.”

(On approach): “Over time it wasn’t going to get better if I kept pounding on it. So I have to make sure it’s fine.”

(On if he felt it during his rehab stint): “To be honest I didn’t really have too many chances in Pawtucket. I had one ball hit to me, and I got on base but I didn’t really test it. The other day when I got on base I stole a base and scored, dove for a couple of balls and kind tested it. It didn’t really help me out.”

(Again, on disappointment): “I’m not excited. I want to be out there like everybody and help us win … We’ll be fine. Guys will step up. They have all year. I’m just one guy. Guys have gone down all year and guys have been able to step up and help us win. We still have a great chance at getting to the playoffs and winning the whole thing.”

(On prognosis): “I’m still healing. It’s not like I did something where it damaged me. It just takes time.”

Read More: broken left foot, Dustin Pedroia, left foot, Red Sox

Red Sox vs. Blue Jays matchups, 8/20

08.20.10 at 3:03 pm ET
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Jon Lester

A night after a crushing 7-2 loss to an Angels team that was primed to get swept, the Red Sox will start anew by taking on the Blue Jays for the middle part of their nine-game homestand. What would normally be a quiet mid-August series between division opponents is amplified by combination of odd factors that will make each game unpredictable. Both teams feature dynamic offenses with the top two home run-hitting teams in the majors, led by the major league leader in homers, José Bautista (37), along with David Ortiz (27). Throw in the fact that the Red Sox will pitch their best three pitchers and the Blue Jays will reach the top of their rotation by the end of the series, and anything is possible. On Friday, the Red Sox will get the series started by throwing their ace lefty, Jon Lester.

After losing his four previous starts, Lester (13-7, 2.80 ERA) has come back with two strong efforts, against the Yankees (6 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits) and the Rangers (8 innings, 0 runs, 5 hits). Lester has been one of only two pitchers in the Red Sox rotation to last the whole season, but unlike John Lackey, Lester has been consistent. Lester has pitched less than six innings only once since the end of April, when he went five innings against the Indians on Aug. 4. Lester has faced the Jays twice this season, both times getting a positive result. On April 28, he lasted seven innings, with a fantastic line of no runs, one hit, two walks and 11 strikeouts. His next matchup against the Jays wasn’t as masterful, but it still went well as he gave up two runs on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts in a 14-3 laugher.

The man faced with the task of stopping Lester’s dominance is second-year starter Brett Cecil. Before June 15, Cecil had been dominant himself, winning five straight decisions to jump to 7-2 with an ERA of 3.22. Since then, Cecil has fallen back to earth, going 2-4 since mid-June to bring his record to 9-6 with a 3.96 ERA. In his last start against the Angels, Cecil had his worst game of the season, giving up seven runs on 10 hits with three home runs through 5 2/3 innings. Cecil did better the only time he faced the Sox this season, but he had the misfortune of opposing Lester in the Sox lefty’s seven inning one-hitter. In that April 28 game, Cecil went six innings with five hits and only a run given up, but it wasn’t enough as the Jays lost 2-0 and Cecil suffered the loss.

The Red Sox batters have seen Cecil only three times, and there’s one batter who stands out from the rest. J.D. Drew has faced the lefty five times and gotten two hits — both home runs.

As for the Blue Jays, Lester has done well in silencing their mighty bats. The major league leader in home runs is a mild 5-for-22 with a single home run and three RBI. The hitter who could be considered the most successful against Lester might be catcher José Molina, who is 5-for-15, all of them singles.

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Read More: Blue Jays, brett cecil, Jon Lester, Red Sox

Red Sox give out more than $10 million in bonuses

08.20.10 at 2:27 pm ET
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According to Baseball America, the Red Sox allocated $10,664,400 to signing bonuses for draft picks this year, fourth-highest among major league baseball organizations. Leading the way were the Washington Nationals, who invested $11,927,200, followed by the Pirates ($11,900,400) and (Blue Jays $11,594,400). The Red Sox dwarfed the investment of the Yankees, who dished out $6,652,500. The lowest number came from the Brewers, who paid out $2,432,200.

The final number for the Red Sox was their highest total ever, surpassing the 2008 draft in which they paid $10,515,00 in bonus money. Over the last three seasons the Sox have invested $28,274,800 in bonuses to draftees, second only to the Pirates.

For the complete list of bonus money allocated by each organization click here. For more Red Sox coverage go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Photos: Matsui, Angels finally break through

08.20.10 at 6:23 am ET
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Hideki Matsui clubbed a three-run homer off Josh Beckett in a four-run sixth as the Los Angeles Angels salvaged their only win against the Red Sox this season, 7-2, Thursday night at Fenway Park. WEEI.com’s John Vu was at Fenway Park to capture the images from last night’s defeat. Click on the image below to launch a slide show.

(John Vu/WEEI.com)

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