Red Sox - 000 100 000 - 1 5 1Lester retired the first 16 batters and finished his night with a career-high 13 strikeouts, but he was ineffective in the eighth inning and Terry Francona left him out on the mound far beyond any common sense. Lester (7.2-4-5-1-13) threw a season-high 124 pitches.
Mariners - 000 002 03x - 5 4 1
For me, this was the most infuriating loss of the season. Losses affect us in different ways. Some can be shrugged off -- everything goes according to plan, but the players are human so there will be poorly located pitches, strikeouts, bad hops, whatever. Others can be stunning (literally) or demoralizing, while others provoke anger.
I haven't been this pissed off while a game unraveled in a very long time. With games like the ninth-inning meltdown last Thursday, there is a helpless -- "why is this happening and will it stop anytime soon?" -- feeling, where everything is in its place, but things do not go well.
Tonight was a game where Francona's decisions seemed to run counter to what he almost always does. When we see the exact opposite of what we have come to know (and respect) about this team occurring, that's when the blood boils.
Lester trailed 2-1, but had allowed only one hit through the first seven innings. Milton Bradley tripled to right-center on pitch #104, but Lester came back to strike out Josh Bard for the 13th K. After a visit from John Farrell, the infield was playing for a possible squeeze -- and that's exactly what happened. Jack Wilson put down a perfect bunt on a 1-1 pitch that was at forehead height -- he even had to hop a little to make good contact. The bunt was too far out in front of the plate for Kevin Cash to field and Lester's only play was to first. Seattle led 3-1. Here is where I would have pulled Lester.
Michael Saunders ran the count full, then lined a single off what looked like Lester's left foot. Tito and the trainer came out, but Lester waved them away. He seemed fine. The injury visit did not count as a trip to the mound, but it was the ideal time to make a move. Manny Delcarmen had been warming up. But Francona left Lester in.
He walked Ichiro on five pitches -- now, Tito? -- then gave up a first-pitch double down the right field line to Chone Figgins. It was now 4-1 and Seattle had runners on second and third.
Finally, in came Delcarmen. He walked Franklin Gutierrez to load the bases, then hit Jose Lopez to force in a run. (He had allowed his last six batters to reach base.) After ball 1 to Justin Smoak, Farrell came back out to chat. MDC's next pitch was crushed to deep right and J.D. Drew caught it maybe 5-7 feet from the wall. A grand slam would not have surprised me in the least.
Why did Francona leave Lester in so long? And if he was so wary of using Delcarmen, then why get him up at all? [Maybe he offered some reasons in his post-game comments.]
Adding to the frustration was the fact that the Yankees had lost to the Royals 7-4. The recent inability to gain any ground in the East has been annoying:
Sun 0718: Yankees win 9-5, Red Sox lose 4-2So the Sox lost ground on two days, missed two opportunities to gain ground, and treaded water on two days. The only time they cut into the lead was on an off day for New York.
Mon 0719: Yankees off, Red Sox win 2-1
Tue 0720: Yankees lose 10-2, Sox lose 5-4 (10)
Wed 0721: Yankees win 10-6, Red Sox lose 6-4
Thu 0722: Yankees win 10-4, Red Sox win 8-6 (13)
Fri 0723: Yankees win 7-1, Red Sox win 2-1
Sat 0724: Yankees lose 7-4, Red Sox lose 5-1
And so Boston remains 7 GB, while the Rays beat Cleveland 6-3 are are 3 GB.
Jon Lester / David Pauley
Pauley has pitched only 15 innings for the Mariners this year, three relief appearances followed by two starts. He appears to play in the majors in even-numbered years only, as his other time in with bigs was with Boston in 2006 and 2008.Scutaro, SS
Royals/Yankees, 1 PM
Rays/Spiders, 7 PM
1901 - The Pirates, playing at home, score in all eight innings and beat the Reds 11-2 (112 212 11x).
1979 - Carl Yastrzemski becomes the 18th major leaguer and seventh in AL history to hit 400 home runs.
1983 - Ye Olde Pine Tar Game.
1999 - With Laura and I in attendance at Tiger Stadium, the Red Sox defeat the Tigers 11-4. Boston clubs seven home runs, with Trot Nixon hitting three.
2004 - JoS:
Today's game had it all -- a brawl featuring A-Rod and Varitek, 4 Red Sox errors (including 3 on three consecutive plays), New York taking a quick 3-0 lead, Boston coming back 4-3 (with 4 hits on four consecutive pitches in the 4th), Tito getting ejected, blowing the lead and trailing 9-4, cutting the gap to 9-8, falling back 10-8, and then winning the game 11-10 with a 2-run Mueller home run off Rivera in the 9th. ... And two perfect innings from Ramiro Mendoza. ...It took a little while to get going -- this game was not the instant spark it is remembered as (Boston went 7-6 over their next 13 games) -- but from August 10 to September 4, the Red Sox were 20-4!
This game could really turn this team around. They played hard Friday, but fell short. Today, they stormed right back after both the fight and the Yankees' 6-run 6th and puts several runs on the board. ... I'm ready for a 20-4 run. I believe! How about you?