|Monday’s Red Sox-White Sox matchups: Jon Lester vs. Jake Peavy||05.30.11 at 7:09 am ET|
One of only three pitchers in the majors to record seven wins, Jon Lester (7-1, 3.36) takes the hill Monday night as the Red Sox return home after a successful seven-game road trip (5-2). Since being charged with a loss on Opening Day, the hard-throwing lefty has reeled off wins in his last seven decisions, most recently in a 14-2 victory over Cleveland. In that win, Lester held the Indians scoreless in six frames.
Lester looks to continue his dominance Monday, pitching the first game of a six-game homestand against White Sox righty Jake Peavy. Peavy (1-0, 3.00) has walked just one batter in 18 innings this season and had his last start cut short after three innings due to a lengthy rain delay. Peavy has made just three starts this season, 10 months after having surgery to repair a detached latissimus dorsi muscle in his back. One of those starts was a 111-pitch, three-hit shutout against the Indians.
In addition to leading the American League in wins, Lester is sixth in both strikeouts (70) and walks allowed (27). He is also third in the league in run support at 9.56 per game. Though the Boston bats have been on fire, the offense may look different as the Red Sox played a doubleheader against the Tigers on Sunday. It is likely manager Terry Francona will give a couple of his starters the night off. Francona won’t feel pressured to start any single starter as no Red Sox players have had consistent success against Peavy. In fact, at least five members of Boston’s starting lineup have never faced the Chicago starter before.
Lester has the number of a few White Sox batters, including Alexei Ramirez, who is just 1-for-10 against the 2010 All-Star. Paul Konerko is the lone Chicago hitter who has hit Lester well in the past. In 15 plate appearances, Konerko has one home run, four RBIs and a .333 average.
|Closing Time: Red Sox demolish the Indians||05.25.11 at 3:08 pm ET|
It was batting practice.
The Red Sox lineup teed off on the Indians, flashing the sort of muscle that team decision-makers no doubt anticipated seeing from time to time when they assembled the club in the offseason. The team exploded out of the blocks with a seven-run first inning (the most runs the team has scored in an inning since last August) in which it collected nine hits, most since they racked up 10 in a memorable 25-8 win over the Marlins in 2003. The Sox then kept adding on.
The team’s 10 extra-base hits were its most since last June 3, and represented the team’s biggest output on the road since June 20, 2007, in a game against the Braves. Of the members of the starting lineup, every one scored at least one run. Only one (shortstop Jed Lowrie) failed to collect either a hit or an RBI.
That set the stage for a 14-2 wipeout of the Indians, the most lopsided Sox road victory since a 14-2 win over the White Sox in 2007.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
–The list of accomplishments by the Sox batters in Wednesday’s game is long. Before getting to that, then, it’s worth taking stock of the performance of Jon Lester. Lester started slowly, allowing a pair of singles in the first (marking the career-high eighth straight inning, spread over three starts, in which he’d allowed at least two baserunners). But he escaped without any harm, and then did what a good starting pitcher should do when entrusted with a huge lead.
Lester, primarily on the strength of fastballs and a very good cutter, retired 15 straight Indians in one stretch. After working to a 7.27 ERA over his previous three starts, Lester ended up delivering six shutout innings on a day when the ball was evidently jumping in Cleveland.
His pitch efficiency (97 pitches in six innings) left something to be desired, and he did issue a walk in the sixth (extending his career-long streak of games in which he permitted a walk to 19). Even so, he allowed just three hits while punching out seven over six shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 3.36. He became the first pitcher in the American League to reach seven wins.
Moreover, he has now held opponents scoreless in 26 of his 134 career starts (19.4 percent) — or roughly one out of every five outings.
He continued a fine run by a rotation that now has a 1.95 ERA over its last eight starts. It was the Sox’ major league-best 12th game this year in which a starter didn’t allow a run.
As for the offense…
–Carl Crawford went 4-for-4 with a homer and two doubles. It was the first time in his Red Sox career that he’d collected more than two hits in a game. It was Crawford’s 30th career four-hit game, and his fifth career game with three or more extra-base hits.
–Dustin Pedroia put the Sox on the board with a two-run homer in the first. It was his first homer since April 15, ending a drought that had reached 136 at-bats. Pedroia went 2-for-5 with 3 RBI.
–Adrian Gonzalez continued his electric May, going 2-for-6 and driving in yet another run. He’s driven in 28 this month, most in the majors; he also leads the AL with 21 multi-hit games this year.
–David Ortiz continued his explosive May. He went 2-for-6 and launched a homer to deep right. He is hitting .337 with a 1.056 OPS, eight homers and 16 extra-base hits (most in the majors) in the month.
–Two Sundays ago, Red Sox catchers did not have a single homer on the year. But then, Jarrod Saltalamacchia went deep on May 15 and he hasn’t stopped crushing the ball since. He now has four homers in a six-game stretch, and the Sox now are tied for 11th in the majors with five homers from their catchers. Saltalamacchia, after going 2-for-4 with 3 RBI, now has a .240 average and .716 OPS on the season, better than the AL averages of .229 and .673 at the position.
–Drew Sutton, a late addition to the lineup when Kevin Youkilis was scratched due to a sore left hand, matched a career high in hits and set a new career high for extra-base hits by going 3-for-5 with two doubles.
–Jacoby Ellsbury (3-for-4 with two walks) had his fourth three-hit game in his last 16 contests. His five times on base matched a career-high, achieved twice before — both in the 2009 season. Since returning to the leadoff spot on April 21, he’s hitting .341 with a .395 OBP.
–Mike Cameron got his first double of the 2011 season. His streak of 19 straight games without a double — dating to last year — was the sixth longest of his career. He did, however, have a pair of homers this year.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
–Jed Lowrie was the only Sox member of the lineup without two hits. Indeed, he was the only one not to collect a single hit, going 0-for-5 with a walk. Over his last 24 games, Lowrie is hitting .233. His average for the year has now fallen to an even .300.
–While Franklin Morales did touch 97 mph with his fastball, the left-hander allowed a pair of runs on three hits in his inning of work, thus denying the Red Sox a shutout.
The Red Sox will look to Jon Lester to sustain the momentum of Tuesday’s victory over the Indians, a team against whom the 27-year-old lefty has had quite a bit of success. Lester (6-1, 3.68 ERA) hasn’t taken a loss in his last seven starts, and six of those games have been wins for Boston.
He had one of his best outings of the season in his last start against Cleveland, but took a no-decision in a 1-0 loss on April 7th. In that start, Lester struck out nine and allowed just three hits over seven shutout innings, but was removed after his pitch count reached 109. The Indians scored in the eighth against Daniel Bard, when Asdrubal Cabrera squeezed in a run.
Cleveland’s hitters have had plenty of experience against Lester over the past five years, hitting a combined .284 in 113 total plate appearances. Former Red Sox Orlando Cabrera has a team-high six hits, two doubles and four RBI in 21 plate appearances.
The Indians have driven in 14 runs against the left-hander, but Lester has yet to give up a home run to any of the current Cleveland batters. Still, he’s already allowed nine long balls this season, after surrendering just 14 all of last year. Lester has managed to hold two of the Indians’ most talented hitters — Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo — to just one hit in 26 combined plate appearances.
The Indians will send another 27-year-old to the mound, as Mitch Talbot will get the start. Due to an early-season elbow injury, Talbot (1-0, 1.46) will be making just his third start of the season, and his first since April 11th, when the right-hander threw eight brilliant innings of five-hit ball in a 4-0 win over the Angels.
Talbot’s other start came against Boston on April 6th, when the Red Sox fell, 8-4. It was the fifth of Boston’s six straight losses to open the season. Talbot received a no-decision in the outing, surrendering two runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings. Carl Crawford, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew and Marco Scutaro all had singles off Talbot, while Adrian Gonzalez added a double.
The Sox have had success against Talbot in his three-year career. In 47 total plate appearances, Boston has hit a combined .324 against the Indians starter, and posted a .468 on-base percentage. Only two Red Sox — Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury — have homered off Talbot, but Youkilis also has a double and three RBIs against the Cleveland starter. Dustin Pedroia has contributed three hits and two RBIs, and is the only Red Sox player to get hit by a Talbot pitch.
|Jon Lester: ‘I’m just not executing pitches’||05.20.11 at 11:52 pm ET|
Jon Lester got the win Friday night to improve to 6-1, but it was far from pretty. He gave up five runs on a career-high 12 hits and didn’t record a single 1-2-3 inning in six frames.
The outing continued a troubling stretch for Lester, who has now given up four or more runs in each of his last three starts. This marks just the fourth such streak of his career and the first since April 2010.
“I’m just not executing pitches,” Lester said. “Pitches that I felt like I did throw pretty well, they got some hits on. That’s just the way it’s going right now.”
The string of bad starts certainly raises questions about whether Lester is 100-percent healthy or whether something’s wrong with his delivery, but the left-hander insisted there aren’t any physical or mechanical problems.
“Execute pitches, that’s all it is,” Lester said. “It sounds easy, but sometimes it’s not. I didn’t do that tonight and they made me pay for it.”
When asked to elaborate on his execution, Lester said there are a number of factors that go into that.
“It’s location, ball’s not down,” he said. “I had chances to put guys away and didn’t do it. You can go down the list. There’s a lot of things. I’m not doing my job right now.”
Lester said he hasn’t changed anything in terms of preparation before or during this rough patch, and that he doesn’t plan on doing so now.
“Nope, same stuff,” he said. “Just go out there and continue to work on the stuff that’s gotten me to this point. I’m not going to change anything. I’m not going to the drawing board.
“Come back tomorrow, get back to work and go get ‘em in five days.”
|Closing Time: Red Sox bats light up Cubs||at 10:46 pm ET|
The Red Sox made it seven straight wins Friday night with a 15-5 thrashing of the Cubs. Their bats exploded for double-digit runs for the first time this season. With the win, the Sox leapfrogged the Yankees for second in the division and moved within a half game of the first-place Rays. This is the closest they’ve been to first since the season started.
Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis led the offensive surge with a combined seven hits and seven RBI. Gonzalez notched his first four-hit game and first four-RBI game with the Sox. Youkilis’ night included his eighth home run of the season, a rocket to left that cleared everything and wound up on Lansdowne Street.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia also went deep when he belted his second homer of the season off the Volvo sign above the Monster seats in the fifth inning. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Jed Lowrie all contributed multi-hit efforts to the cause as well.
The Sox scored multiple runs in four of the first five innings and chased Cubs starter Doug Davis (0-2) from the game after just 3 2/3 innings.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses for the Sox, however. Although he got the win, Jon Lester (6-1) struggled all night long. He gave up five runs on a career-high 12 hits in six innings of work. He didn’t have a single 1-2-3 inning.
Friday marked the third straight start that Lester gave up at least four runs, the fourth such streak of his career and first since April 2010, when he did so in his first three outings of the season. Between the end of that streak and the beginning of this one, Lester allowed four or more runs just eight times in 32 starts. Read the rest of this entry »
Friday will mark one of the biggest games on the MLB schedule in 2011 when the Cubs travel to Fenway Park to visit the Red Sox for the first time since the two sides squared off in the 1918 World Series. As you all remember quite vividly, Carl Mays defeated Lefty Tyler, 2-1, in Game 6 to give the Sox the 4-2 Series victory. Nearly one century later when the two teams meet again, it’ll be Jon Lester dueling with Doug Davis in a battle between two modern-day lefties.
Together with Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz, Lester (5-1, 3.28 ERA) has become part of a solid core of three at the front end of the Red Sox starting rotation. With his win on Sunday against the Yankees (6 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 7 K, 4 BB), the Boston left-hander grabbed the highest win percentage in major league history among pitchers with at least 50 decisions at .717 (66-26). But he has struggled slightly as of late. Sunday’s performance was the second game in a row in which he allowed more than four earned runs after he allowed five over 5 1/3 innings in a 7-6 loss to Toronto on May 10. He’ll be best served by avoiding the long ball if he can. Lester has surrendered a team-high nine home runs in 2011, third most in the American League. He’s allowed at least one bomb in his last four starts, matching a career-long stretch.
Only four players on the Cubs have ever stepped up to the plate against Lester, but those on the roster who haven’t may be best served picking the brain of Carlos Pena, who has 49 plate appearances against the lefty dating back to his days with Tampa Bay. The lefty slugger has a .275 average and five home runs against Lester but has also struck out 13 times.
The 35-year-old Davis was signed by Chicago in the offseason to provide rotation depth and has already been called upon to do so in the first quarter of the season. With Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells injured, Davis was needed to make his first start of the season last Saturday against the Giants and fared pretty well, allowing just one earned over five innings of work while striking out six. Unfortunately for him, the Cubs provided zero run support in a 3-0 loss and Davis was saddled with his first loss of 2011.
Expect lefty bat J.D. Drew to get the night off in right field for the Sox in favor of righty Mike Cameron, who has faced Davis 64 times in his career and has a .333 average against him. Adrian Gonzalez has just a .206 average against Davis in 37 plate appearances, but don’t expect the only AL player in the top five in all three Triple Crown categories to sit against the lefty. Read the rest of this entry »
|Sunday’s Red Sox matchups: Jon Lester vs. Freddy Garcia||05.15.11 at 12:02 pm ET|
After four straight wins and six straight quality starts, Jon Lester struggled on Tuesday against the Blue Jays. He gave up five runs on seven hits and five walks over 5 1/3 innings and came away with a no decision. He’ll look to rebound from that start in Sunday night’s series finale against the Yankees.
Lester, who is 4-1 with a 2.96 ERA this season, is 6-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 12 career starts against the Yankees. He was especially dominant last year, when he went 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in four starts versus New York.
Current Yankees are hitting just .236 against Lester. Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson are all hitting under .200. Alex Rodriguez has three home runs and six RBIs in 26 at-bats, but he’s batting just .231. Derek Jeter has had the most success against Lester, as he is hitting .333 in 36 ABs.
Getting the start for the Yankees will be Freddy Garcia, who is 2-2 with a 2.61 ERA this season. After getting saddled with back-to-back losses, he picked up his second win on Tuesday when he held the Royals to one run on six hits over six innings. He pitched an inning out of the bullpen against the Sox back on April 10 and gave up one run in one inning of work.
In his career, Garcia is 8-2 with a 4.44 ERA in 17 appearances against Boston. Current Sox are hitting .248 against him. Carl Crawford leads the way with a .333 average, one homer and two RBIs in 18 ABs. David Ortiz has two long bombs and six RBIs in 33 ABs, but he’s hitting just .242. Read the rest of this entry »
- Preliminary 'New Stars for Young Stars' lineup announced
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Big weeks for Acosta and Welch
- Gary DiSarcina named Baseball America Minor League Manager of the Year
- Red Sox non-tender Ryan Kalish, Andrew Bailey
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Jesus Loya solid at the plate in Mexico
- Help Wanted: Staff Editor, Scouts
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #48: The Slow Season
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Attention shifts to Caribbean, Jerez shining in Venezuela
- Luis Ortega traded to Brewers for reliever Burke Badenhop
- Red Sox re-sign infielder Brandon Snyder