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Saturday’s Red Sox-Athletics matchups: Jon Lester vs. A.J. Griffin

07.13.13 at 9:23 am ET
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It’€™s been a tumultuous first half for Jon Lester, the left-hander’€™s first nine starts looking like the Lester of old, and everything since then ‘€” everything since mid-May ‘€” looking more and more like the 2012 version. He will have a chance to close out his first half on a high note when he takes to the mound against the AL West first-place Athletics and righty A.J. Griffin Saturday night at O.co Coliseum.

Lester looked like he may have turned a corner as June turned to July, but he took a big step backward his last time out. The Mariners ‘€” who hit .242 as a team ‘€” lit him up for five runs on nine hits and two walks in five innings Monday. He threw 112 pitches and struck out six batters by the time Mike Zunino‘€™s sixth-inning single ended his night.

Justin Smoak (2-for-3, double, RBI), Raul Ibanez (home run) and a 39-pitch fourth inning in particular presented problems for the 6-foot-4 southpaw.

‘€œI felt like I threw a lot of good pitches tonight, but I threw balls that found the middle of the plate,’€ Lester told the media after the 11-4 Red Sox loss. ‘€œThey did a better job of fouling pitches off to get to those pitches. It goes back to, I feel like I threw the ball better than what the line score says.’€

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was a bit more complimentary.

‘€œI thought his curveball was the best I’€™ve seen as far as being sharp and having some good movement to it,’€ the catcher said before crediting M’€™s hitters with fouling off and laying off good pitches.

On the season, Lester is 8-5 with a 4.60 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. His 7.5 K/9 mark is around what it was last season, but his 2.36 K/BB rate would be his worse since 2008.

Lester tossed 5 2/3 innings against the A’€™s on April 24, and found moderate success. He allowed three runs on six hits, but also walked six batters before exiting with 115 pitches under his belt.

Griffin (7-6, 3.94 ERA), meanwhile, has had a solid sophomore season, even if he does average a long ball per outing.

His shortest start of the year came against the Red Sox on April 22 when he gave up nine runs (seven earned) on eight hits (two homers) and a walk in four innings. The biggest blow came in the fifth when Mike Napoli sent an 0-1 fastball over the fence in left-center for a grand slam.

Griffin pitched well, if inefficiently, his last time out. He worked his way up to 105 pitches in just five innings of work, yielding two runs on five hits (two homers) and a walk to the Royals in Oakland’€™s 10-4 win.

Red Sox vs. Griffin (RHP)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (8 plate appearances): .250 BA/.250 OBP/.250 SLG, 2 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (7): .333/.429/1.000, 1 double, 1  home run, 5 RBIs, 1 strikeout

Jacoby Ellsbury (6): .167/.167/.333, 1 double

Daniel Nava (6): .167/.167/.333, 1 double

David Ortiz (6): .500/.667/1.500, 1 double, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 RBI

Shane Victorino (3): .333/.333/.333

Ryan Lavarnway (2): .500/.500/.500

Jackie Bradley Jr., Mike Carp, Johhny Gomes, Brock Holt, Jose Iglesias and Brandon Snyder have never faced Griffin.

Athletics vs. Lester (LHP)

Coco Crisp (9 plate appearances): .286 BA/.333 OBP/.714 SLG, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Chris Young (6): .500/.667/1.500, 1 double, 1 home run, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Yoenis Cespedes (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

Josh Donaldson (3): .333/.333/.667, 1 double

Nate Freiman (3): .000/.667/.000, 2 walks

Jed Lowrie (3): .667/.667/.667

Brandon Moss (3): .333/.333/.333, 2 strikeouts

Derek Norris (3): .000/.333/.000, walk

Josh Reddick (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Seth Smith (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Grant Green, John Jaso and Eric Sogard have never faced Lester.

Read More: A.J. Griffin, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jon Lester, mike napoli
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