|Jon Lester finally loses to Orioles||09.21.12 at 11:15 pm ET|
Friday night’s loss was nothing out of the ordinary for the Red Sox, but it was for their starting pitcher.
The loss, Boston’s 84th in what’s been a dreadful season, marked the first time Jon Lester suffered a defeat against the Orioles in his career. He entered the night 14-0 lifetime against Baltimore in 20 starts, but the streak — the longest such streak against the Orioles to start one’s career since at least 1901, according to STATS LLC — was snapped Friday with Baltimore’s 4-2 victory over the Sox.
“It was bound to happen sometime,” Lester said after the game. “They’re playing good this year. They’ve always had a good offense. They’re just putting everything else together. Like I said, it was bound to happen.”
Lester threw seven innings for the Sox, allowing four earned runs on eight hits and walking three while striking out three. He also threw a wild pitch. The loss dropped Lester’s record to 9-13 in a season in which he will finish with a losing record for the first time in his career. Lester had won at least 15 games in the previous four seasons.
Though it wasn’t a bad outing for Lester (“His pitches were crisp. He battled the whole way,” Bobby Valentine said of the outing), one could have figured that Lester’s dominance over Baltimore would eventually end due to the Orioles’ resurgence. Baltimore currently holds the top wild-card spot and is one game behind the Yankees for the AL East lead.
“I think Buck [Showalter]‘s done a good job over there as far as trying to change the mentality of the players,” Lester said of the Orioles. “The offense was always there. They could always hit the ball and run and do the little things inside the game, but they lacked a little pitching whether it was the starting or the back end of the bullpen. They’ve done a good job of filling those pieces and it’s finally coming together for them.”
The silver lining for Lester and the Sox is that his woes from earlier in the season (three straight starts without getting out of the fifth inning in July, three games of seven earned runs or more in the first four months of the season) appear to be behind him. Lester has thrown seven innings in back-to-back starts, and has six quality starts over his last 10 outings. His earned run average has dropped over half a run from 5.49 at the end of July to 4.96 after Friday’s outing.
“If he pitches like that, for the way he’s pitched for the last couple months, month and a half, whatever the heck it’s been, even the whole second half, he’s going to win a lot of games,” Valentine said. “He’ll be up there in wins. Balls are going to be hit at people more in the future I think.
“If he stays healthy, he’s a very good pitcher. Every time he’s out there, we just don’t get the runs in double digits to get him a cushion. He has to make every pitch a crucial pitch and every once in a while it just doesn’t work for him.”
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