Sox bats can't bail out Lester in K.C.

Sox bats can't bail out Lester in K.C.
August 8, 2013, 11:00 pm

KANSAS CITY – Jon Lester settled down considerably after the first inning. Still, by that point the Royals had done enough damage off the Sox lefty. After that, all Kansas City needed was for Bruce Chen to keep the Sox offensive stymied for the remainder of his outing.
 
The Royals lefty complied, leading K.C. to a 5-1 victory in the opener of this four-game series on Thursday night. This was the Royals 13th win in their past 15 games.
 
Lester fell to 10-7, with a 4.37 ERA. He went seven innings, giving up three runs, one earned, on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts. He threw 121 pitches, 76 for strikes.
 
Chen earned the win, improving to  5-0, while his ERA fell from 2.03 to 1.79  He went 7 2/3 innings, giving up five hits with one walk and two strikeouts. Chen threw 108 pitches, 73 for strikes.
 
Lester needed a whopping 41 pitches to get through the first inning when he faced eight batters. Lorenzo Cain led off with a double, taking third on Eric Hosmer’s ground out.  With one out, Billy Butler walked before Alex Gordon’s fly ball, which left fielder Jonny Gomes misplayed for an error, with Butler going to second on the play.  After Miguel Tejada walked, Mike Moustakas singled to right, scoring Maxwell and Butler. Lester struck out Brett Hayes to end the inning.
 
Lester settled significantly after that, needing just seven pitches to get through the second inning.
 
Still, Chen kept the Sox off the scoreboard and largely out of scoring chances.
 
The Sox had limited opportunities against the Royals journeyman lefty.  It wasn’t until they had two outs in the eighth inning that they were able to get a runner into scoring position. Daniel Nava led off the inning with a single to center and Jacoby Ellsbury singled to left with two outs, ending Chen’s outing with Luke Hochevar entering in relief. The righty needed just two pitches to retire Shane Victorino on a pop fly to third baseman Mike Moustakas, ending the Sox's threat.
 
Rubby De La Rosa replaced Lester in the eighth, and was greeted by Butler, who crushed the first pitch he saw – a 96-mph fastball – to straightaway center field, putting the Royals up by four runs. With two outs, Justin Maxwell sent a 3-and-1, 97-mph fastball into the seats in right-center, giving the Royals a 5-0 lead.
 
The Sox got a run off Hochevar in the ninth, when Gomes doubled with one out and Stephen Drew drove him home with a single to left. But Mike Napoli, who was dropped to sixth in the batting order for this game, grounded into a double play to end it.

Hochevar earned his seventh save with 1 1/3 innings of one-run relief.

STAR OF THE GAME: Bruce Chen
Chen earned the win, improving to  5-0, while his ERA fell from 2.03 to 1.79  He went 7 2/3 innings, giving up five hits with one walk and two strikeouts.  In five starts this season, he is 2-0 with a 1.14 ERA. From the second inning until the seventh, he retired 16 in a row.
 
HONORABLE MENTION: Mike Moustakas
Moustakas went 2-for-4 with two RBI. His two-run double with two outs in the first inning gave Chen enough of a cushion to hold the Sox off.
 
GOAT OF THE GAME: Jon Lester
Lester took the loss, falling to 10-7  with a 4.37 ERA. He went seven innings, giving up three runs, one earned, on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts. He threw 121 pitches, 76 for strikes.
 
THE TURNING POINT: Moustakas’ two-run double in the first inning gave the Royals a 3-0 lead, a comfortable cushion to allow Chen to keep the Sox at bay.
 
BY THE NUMBERS: The Sox tied a season high with three errors in the game. One of the errors, a fielding error by Jonny Gomes in the first inning, led to two unearned runs charged to Lester.
 
QUOTE OF NOTE: “If you’re left-handed and you throw strikes in this game, there’s life for you.” – Jonny Gomes, on Bruce Chen’s effectiveness.