|Sources: Jon Lester shouldn’t be lumped in with other starters||10.13.11 at 2:29 pm ET|
According to multiple team sources, the participation of Jon Lester in joining the other starting pitchers in drinking beer, eating fried chicken and playing video games in the clubhouse during games (as was reported by The Boston Globe Wednesday) was overstated. One source said Lester participated “occasionally, but very infrequent.”
The sources also confirmed that unlike some of the identified pitchers in the article, Lester’s work ethic didn’t trail off as the Sox slumped through September.
“Lester was not part of any of this,” said one of the sources. “He worked his ass off right to the end.”
The Globe report stated:
Sources said [Josh] Beckett, Lester and [John] Lackey, who were joined at times by [Clay] Buchholz, began the practice late in 2010. The pitchers not only continued the routine this year, sources said, but they joined a number of teammates in cutting back on their exercise regimens despite appeals from the team’s strength and conditioning coach Dave Page.
‘It’s hard for a guy making $80,000 to tell a $15 million pitcher he needs to get off his butt and do some work,’’ one source said.
“For Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, the consequences were apparent as their body fat appeared to increase and pitching skills eroded. When the team needed them in September, they posted a combined 2-7 record with a 6.45 earned run average, the Sox losing 11 of their 15 starts.”
Lester finished the season at 15-9 with a 3.47 ERA, pitching 191 2/3 innings. The Red Sox lost five of his last six starts, with the lefty totaling a 5.40 ERA during that stretch.
|Curt Schilling on D&C: ‘This is what happens when you piss people off that are really rich and powerful’||at 11:18 am ET|
Former Red Sox pitcher and ESPN baseball analyst Curt Schilling joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to share his thoughts on an article published Wednesday outing some of the gory details of the Red Sox failed season.
Schilling, who sounded emotional when addressing the current Red Sox players’ silence in the wake of the reports, said he thinks the players need to start taking responsibility for their actions that led to the worst September collapse in baseball history.
“My biggest fear is that one or more players is going to come out and try to defend what’s happened instead of just doing a mea culpa and saying, ‘You know what? Wow was this wrong. Wow did we screw this guy. Wow did we cost you. I don’t know if there’s anything we can say or do to make this up, but we’ll do everything,'” Schilling said. “I don’t see anything other than that. Otherwise you can’t come back.”
Schilling said he was especially hurt and disturbed by accusations made about Terry Francona, and he even went so far as to say Francona may have the makings of a slander lawsuit on his hands because of statements made by anonymous sources about a pain-killer issue.
“I wonder legally whether he has recourse because the team trainer, the team doctor and the ownership, the executive people on this team I would imagine are the only people with enough knowledge of Tito’s medicinal habits to make that comment, to have that news out there,” Schilling said. “This was somebody out to ruin this guy’s life. Because now, I look at this almost like I look at a sexual harassment case. It doesn’t matter if he did it or not. He’s going to have to answer questions about this for the rest of his life.”
|Poll: Which revelation in most recent report about Red Sox dysfunction ticked you off most?||10.12.11 at 9:25 am ET|
For those who haven’t read Bob Hohler‘s look at the dysfunction within the Red Sox clubhouse during their collapse, I suggest you take a gander. It paints the picture of multiple causes for the disaster that was the worst September fade in Major League Baseball history. Of the instances touched on were:
‘¢ Team sources were concerned that manager Terry Francona was distracted by a troubled marriage and mounting health problems. Those sources also suggested that the manager’s performance may have also been affected his use of pain medication. (Both notions are vehemently denied by Francona.) The report also stated that Francona was concerned about the safety of his son, Nick, and son-in-law, Michael Rice, who were both serving in Afghanistan.
‘¢ Even after principal owner John Henry offered $300 headphones, along with the chance to conduct a team get-together on his yacht, following the scheduling issues due to Hurricane Irene, the Sox failed to respond.
‘¢ Starting pitchers Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz continued a practice that dated back to 2010 in which they would drink beer, eat fried chicken and play video games in the clubhouse during games. The group was also cited by a source as cutting back on their exercise regimens despite the urging of strength and conditioning coach Dave Page.
‘¢ Tim Wakefield‘s quest for personal records (200 wins, Red Sox career leader in wins) was perceived as the pitcher’s priority, with the story citing a quote to FoxSports.com (“I think the fans deserve an opportunity to chase that record”) as raising some eyebrows within the organization.
‘¢ Sources suggested there was a lack of leadership among the veterans, noting in particular the ineffectiveness of captain Jason Varitek. As was previously reported by WEEI.com, David Ortiz did attempt to rally the clubhouse with a players-only meeting in September, but also, as stated in Hohler’s piece, was singled out more for rants directed toward Francona regarding a scoring decision and the reluctance to use Alfredo Aceves in the starting rotation.
‘¢ Jacoby Ellsbury‘s relationship with his teammates was “chilled” after the incidents of 2010. (Note: For what it’s worth, this was one example of perceived dysfunction that I wouldn’t necessarily totally agree with. Ellsbury clearly socialized and regularly interacted with more than just one player — Jed Lowrie — as the report suggested).
‘¢ “The gift of leadership also eluded Adrian Gonzalez.”
‘¢ The report states that ownership was divided over general manager Theo Epstein‘s push to sign Carl Crawford.
So there you have it. Really good report … and now your thoughts:
Which recent Red Sox revelation got you the most upset?
- Starting pitchers eating, drinking and playing video games during Sox games (59%)
- The team's lack of leadership (22%)
- The alleged distraction of Terry Francona's personal issues (10%)
- Tim Wakefield's focus on personal goals (7%)
- Ownership's apparent division over the signing of Carl Crawford (3%)
- Jacoby Ellsbury's alleged seclusion following last season's controversy (1%)
|Wednesday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Jon Lester vs. Alfredo Simon||09.28.11 at 1:00 pm ET|
In their last scheduled game of the regular season, the Red Sox start Jon Lester with the hope that their ace can deliver in what is essentially a must-win game for Boston Wednesday night. Lester is facing a team that he has had immense success against over the course of his career in the Orioles.
Baltimore will start Alfredo Simon, who will look to pick up his first win in seven starts and play the part of spoiler.
Tied with the Red Sox in the wild card standings are the Rays, who are facing a Yankees team that has already clinched first place in the AL East. David Price will start for Tampa Bay Wednesday, while New York had yet to designate a starter at 1 p.m.
Lester (15-9, 3.49 ERA) has struggled throughout September, along with the rest of the Boston starters. The left-hander is 1-3 with a 5.96 ERA in the month, and he was lit up by the Yankees in his last start on Saturday for eight runs in 2 2/3 innings. But Lester has owned Baltimore throughout his career, posting a 14-0 record with a 2.33 ERA.
The current Orioles lineup has just one home run in 190 combined plate appearances against Lester. Matt Wieters is hitting .348 off of the Boston starter in his career, but he has just one extra-base hit.
Simon (4-9, 4.85 ERA) was converted to a starter in July and has had an up-and-down season since. His worst month has been September, in which Simon is 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA. The right-hander was solid in his last outing, when he pitched eight innings and gave up three runs in a no-decision against Detroit.
In one start against Boston this year, Simon surrendered three runs in 4 2/3 innings. He has not faced any Red Sox batter more than six times in his career. Jacoby Ellsbury has a double and a triple off of Simon in three career plate appearances.
|Lester: ‘It’s not a good time to have this stretch’||09.24.11 at 9:00 pm ET|
NEW YORK — In its own right, the outing was disconcerting enough for the Red Sox. At a time when his team is trying to cling to a postseason berth, Jon Lester delivered one of the worst outings of his career.
The left-hander pitched just 2 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of 2011. In that brief time on the mound, he permitted as many runs (8, a season-high) and hits (8) as he recorded outs in the Sox’ 9-1 loss to the Yankees.
It continued a stretch in which the pitcher has struggled at a time when his team needed him. He has lost his last three starts (the second longest stretch of consecutive losing starts in his career), averaging fewer than five innings per outing while getting tagged for 16 runs in 13 2/3 innings (10.54 ERA).
The pitcher could offer no explanation for his recent string of poor outings, though he did suggest that health was not an issue.
‘I’m not tired. I’m not hurt. There’s nothing wrong with me. I wouldn’t go out there if there was something wrong with me. It’s nothing physically,’ said Lester. ‘It’s just one of those deals. I’ve been getting my [butt] kicked lately. It’s not a good time to have this stretch.
‘I stink. If I had the answer, it wouldn’t happen. You go 32-0 every year if you had the answer of why you suck sometimes. It just happens. It’s part of baseball,’ he added. ‘Teams go through stretches like this like we’re going. Pitchers go through stretches like I’m doing. It’s the name of the game. Other times, you throw the ball right down the middle and it gets popped up. That’s baseball. You make a pitch on the black, and it gets hit 400 feet.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Jon Lester vs. Freddy Garcia||09.23.11 at 8:03 am ET|
Before the season, a late-September series against the Yankees seemed to be a marquee matchup between two teams battling for the division title. Yet because of a September collapse, the Red Sox search for wins in the series to keep the surging Rays at bay while the division-winning Yankees will attempt to prepare their team for the postseason.
Like the Red Sox, Lester has struggled in September. After going 14-6 with a 3.09 ERA from April through August, Lester is 1-3 while giving up nine runs on 23 hits through 23 innings. Oddly enough, Yankee Stadium may be just the place for Lester to rediscover his rhythm. Lester is 2-0 at Yankee Stadium this season and is 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA against the Yankees this season.
Derek Jeter is the only Yankee hitting above .300 in his career against Lester. In 51 plate appearances against Lester, Jeter is hitting .340 with two RBIs, three walks and 10 strikeouts.
Garcia is winless against the Red Sox this season, going 0-2 in four starts with a 6.92 ERA. In his last three starts, Garcia has not pitched well, allowing 15 earned runs in 12 1/3 inning while walking six, striking out eight and allowing six home runs. Despite Garcia’s struggles on the mound, the Yankee offense helped New York to a 2-1 record in those three games.
Multiple Red Sox batters have enjoyed success against Garcia throughout their careers. Marco Scutaro is hitting .533 against the right-hander in 15 plate appearances, touching Garcia up for a double, two triples and an RBI. Carl Crawford also hits well against Garcia, batting .304 with a double, a triple, a home run and two RBIs. Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: Red Sox bats stifled by Tampa Bay pitching||09.17.11 at 7:26 pm ET|
In what comes as no surprise to those familiar with Tampa Bay’s pitching staff, the Red Sox could not get their bats going against the Rays’ pitching staff and lost, 4-3, on Saturday afternoon.
The Rays did most of their damage early, roughing Red Sox starter Jon Lester up for two runs in the first inning before adding to their total with a run in the third and a run in the fifth.
The Red Sox pitchers did their part. Despite his difficult first inning, Lester calmed down and put in seven innings of work before the Red Sox before handing the game over to Daniel Bard and Franklin Morales, both of whom did not allow a run.
But in the end, the Red Sox were simply unable to take advantage of multiple opportunities to mount a come-back and lost their second game of the series.
Here’s a look at what else went wrong for the Red Sox Saturday.
What went wrong for the Red Sox
– The Red Sox were a terrible 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. Two of their three runs scored on sacrifices. Dustin Pedroia‘s three-pitch strikeout at the end of the seventh inning with the tying run on third was an especially painful moment for the Red Sox.
– For the second consecutive game, the Red Sox found themselves facing a 2-0 deficit entering their first at-bats of the day by virtue of a two-run home run. Unlike Friday’s game, the Red Sox did not respond in the bottom of the first with two runs of their own and spent the entire game trying to start a come-back.
– The Red Sox struggled to find a way to quiet Desmond Jennings, who scored twice in each of the last five games between the Red Sox and Rays. Jennings reached base in the first inning on Saturday via a four-pitch walk and scored on Ben Zobrist‘s home run. In the third inning, Jennings doubled, advanced to third on a fielders’ choice and scored on a wild pitch.
– Jacoby Ellsbury stole his first base since Aug. 26 with a swipe of second in the fifth inning, but he promptly ended the inning when he was caught stealing third with two outs in the inning.
What went right for the Red Sox
– Lester was able to go deep into the game, pitching seven innings and allowing four runs on five hits.
– Bard had a clean eighth inning for the second consecutive night, ending a string of three bad appearances. The velocity on Bard’s fastball had dropped to the 94-96 mile per hour range while he was struggling, but on Saturday it was back up to his more typical 98 miles per hour.
– Mike Aviles, starting in place of the injured Kevin Youkilis, delivered a big hit for the second night in a row. Aviles’ double in the third inning drove in Carl Crawford, cutting the Rays lead to 3-1. Aviles scored later in the inning on a sacrifice fly, bringing the Red Sox within a run of the Rays.
– Adrian Gonzalez flashed the leather a few times on Saturday. In the fourth inning, Gonzalez went up for a ball off Casey Kotchman‘s bat and started a double play to end the inning after Lester walked two consecutive batters. In the sixth inning, Gonzalez made a diving grab to his right, robbing Kotchman of extra bases and ending the inning.
– Josh Reddick got his first hit of the series, a single to right in the fourth inning
In the third game of a pivotal four-game series against the Rays, the Red Sox will send Jon Lester to the mound on Saturday at Fenway Park. Lester will try to make up for a poor start against the Rays in his last outing, while Tampa Bay’s Jeff Niemann will look to replicate the success he had against the Sox on Aug. 16, when he threw a complete game.
Lester (15-7, 3.07 ERA) lasted just four innings last Sunday against the Rays, allowing four runs in a loss. It was tied for his shortest outing of the season and gave the Rays the series sweep.
Besides that start, however, Lester has been excellent lately, recording a 2.63 ERA over his last 10 outings. The left-hander has been fanning batters at a good clip as well, striking out 59 in those games.
Lester has a 4.00 ERA in three starts against Tampa Bay this season, going 1-2 in those games. Johnny Damon is hitting .300 with two home runs and seven RBIs against Lester. The Rays lineup as a unit has .245 average against the Boston starter.
Niemann (10-7, 3.97 ERA) has had a solid year for Tampa Bay in the middle of the rotation. After struggling against Texas on Sept. 6, when he gave up seven runs in 4 2/3 innings, Niemann rebounded to pitch 7 2/3 innings while giving up only two runs against the Orioles in a win on Monday.
Niemann has been especially good against the Red Sox this season, allowing two runs in two starts (17 innings). That includes that complete game on Aug. 16, when Niemann allowed two runs and struck out 10 in the win over Boston. The current Red Sox lineup has been dismal against Niemann, hitting .130 off the Rays starter collectively. Conor Jackson is the only Boston player hitting above .200 off of Niemann.
|Closing Time: Red Sox’ September swoon continues as Rays finish sweep||09.11.11 at 5:09 pm ET|
But Jon Lester was another matter. He is the rock of the Red Sox rotation, and at a time when the rest of the team had been sagging, the left-hander had been willing to shoulder the load to give the Sox at least one day out of five when they would feature reliable starting pitching. He had gone five straight starts in which he’d allowed no more than one earned run, tied for the longest such run by a Sox left-hander since at least 1919.
But on Sunday, that changed. In the course of a 43-pitch first inning, the Rays pushed three runs across the plate. They would tack on one more against Lester, who lasted just four innings, before continuing to do damage against the Boston bullpen in an eventual 9-1 smackdown.
And so, the Red Sox lost their buoy. The Rays and James Shields concluded their three-game sweep over the Sox, and suddenly the Sox’ safe passage into the postseason seemed dramatically imperiled.
On Aug. 7, the Rays were 11 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East, and 10 games behind the Yankees in the wild card standings. Now, with their three-game sweep in Tampa Bay, the Rays have slashed their deficit to the Sox — now in the wild card race rather than the division standings — to 3½ games, punctuating a stretch in which the Rays have gone 22-10 and the Sox have stumbled to a 15-18 mark.
Tampa Bay outscored Boston by a combined 22-8 score, and the Sox enter Monday’s off-day having lost five straight, 7-of-8, and 9-of-11. They are in their most pronounced state of crisis since their 0-6 start in April.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
— The Rays worked over Lester as never before. For the first time in his career, on a day when he threw more than 100 pitches, the left-hander could not work his way into the fifth inning. Instead, he allowed four runs on eight hits in just four innings, striking out two and walking three. In the first inning alone, the three earned runs permitted by Lester matched his total yield from his previous 30 innings.
— Lester’s dreadful outing continued one of the worst turns of the rotation by the Red Sox in years. The team has now had five straight starts of no more than five innings, the longest such stretch by the team since Sept. 21-25, 2001, when Casey Fossum, Derek Lowe, Hideo Nomo, David Cone and Frank Castillo taxed the Sox bullpen.
|Red Sox-Rays Sunday matchups: Jon Lester vs. James Shields||at 11:23 am ET|
Now, a team that is spinning through a 1-6 stretch and that has last four straight is hearing footsteps or whatever sound it is that the motion of Rays makes. Tampa Bay has crept within 4½ games of the Sox in the wild card after taking two straight games to start the series, and the Sox will ask their ace to clot the wound.
Lester is 15-6 with a 2.93 ERA, 167 strikeouts and 63 walks in 173 innings this year. Against the Rays, he is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA, 16 strikeouts and three walks in 14 innings. He is 10-4 with a 3.65 ERA against Tampa Bay in his career.
Among members of Tampa Bay’s lineup, Johnny Damon (.296, .863 OPS) has enjoyed the most success against Lester, followed by Evan Longoria (.256, .822). But on the whole, Lester has had his way with members of the Rays, who own a collective .222 average and .672 OPS against him. Read the rest of this entry »
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