Frustrated Lester searching for answers

799642.jpg

Frustrated Lester searching for answers

BOSTON -- A frustrated Jon Lester sat at his postgame press conference on Friday night, and couldn't figure out a reason why he was leaving Fenway Park with his fifth loss of the season.

Lester gave up three runs on a season-high-tying 10 hits. He walked one batter and struck out five in seven innings in which he threw 118 pitches.

He said he felt fine. He said his mechanics were good. He even made adjustments. But Lester was left searching for answers for why the results aren't coming along at a more consistent rate.

"I'm getting tired of the same old expletive," said Lester. "I'm making good pitches, and they're getting hit. I don't know what else to do.

"Same book, different chapter for me."

The Braves scored their first two runs off Lester in the top of the fourth. The first run came on a fielder's choice groundout to shortstop Mike Aviles, who went to first base for the second out of the inning, scoring Freddie Freeman from third. Then Andrelton Simmons doubled down the left-field line that scored Jason Heyward, giving the Braves a 2-0 lead.

Lester allowed the third run of the game in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly to right field, that scored Heyward tagging from third, giving the Braves a 3-0 lead.

"They did a good job, early on, of kind of knowing what we normally do against lefties," said Lester after the loss. "We altered it, and still got hit. So, like I said, I don't know. You've got to go ask them, go ask the other hitters what I'm doing. I don't know. I'm not up in the zone. I'm down, on the corners, and still getting whacked around. So, I'm at a loss right now."

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine agreed that Lester wasn't bad on Friday night.

"A lot of really good pitches got hit," said Valentine afterwards. "I thought he threw the ball extremely well. He could have won that game very easily."

Lester left the game after getting Freeman to ground into an inning-ending 3-6-1 double play in the top of the seventh. At that point, it was a 3-0 Atlanta lead.

The Braves went on to win 4-1, and Lester's record reads 4-5 afterwards. But he believes he was good enough to leave Fenway with a 5-4 record on Friday night.

He won't. And the reason he won't at least still be 4-4 is because his offense didn't show up against Jair Jurrjens.

"I'm throwing the ball fine," he said. "I'm just not getting the results. I don't think it's mental. I'm mentally prepared. I'm physically prepared for every start. I go out and compete. That's all I can do. I can't worry about anything else."

Without any help from his offense on Friday night, a frustrated Lester left Fenway searching for answers.

Sunday's Red Sox - Yankees lineups

red_sox_david_price_041616.jpg

Sunday's Red Sox - Yankees lineups

If the rain doesn't prevent it, the Red Sox and Yankees will play the third and final game of their weekend series Sunday night at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox go into this one having won the first two games and are fresh off an 8-0 win Saturday night with Rick Porcello on the mound. Porcello improved to 5-0 on the season after another strong outing. His fellow Sox pitchers are starting to come around as of late, too.

Red Sox starters have thrown at least 6.0 innings in each of the club’s last 6 games, lowering the starting staff’s ERA nearly a full run from 5.48 to 4.49 in that span.

David Price takes the mound for the Sox. Price leads all major league starters with 13.96 SO/9.0 IP this year, the highest mark for any AL pitcher through April 30 in the Live Ball Era (min. 4 starts).

Here is the full Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Brock Holt LF
Christian Vazquez C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

David Price LHP

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello has ability to adjust

mcadamsnc04301462075715094_3450k_1280x720_677158979552.jpg

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello has ability to adjust

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 8-0 win over the Yankees:

QUOTES:

"He threw all four pitches tonight for strikes, but most importantly, (he's shown) the ability to make adjustments from pitch-to-pitch. If he gets out of whack or misses with a pitch, he's right back in the strike zone.'' - John Farrell on Rick Porcello.

"You look back at the first month and I think we've gained a lot of trust in each other up and down the lineup. That to me is the strongest attribute right now on this team.'' - Farrell on the Red Sox after one month of play.

"Pretty similar. I'm getting a lot of timely hits, and it's helping the team.'' - Jackie Bradley Jr., asked if this last week is similar to the hot streak he enjoyed last August.

"I'm comfortable. I'm in a good place, mentally and physically. I worked really hard to get where I am now and I'm going to continue to work.'' – Bradley on his hot streak.

"Much better fastball command. I've been able to execute my sinker better and that's allowed me to get ahead of hitters and if I do fall behind, I've been able to come back.'' - Porcello on cutting his walk rate by more than half compared to this point a year ago.

NOTES:

* The shutout at Fenway was the first for the Red Sox against the Yankees since May 14, 2011.

* The eight-run margin was the biggest margin in a Red Sox shutout over the Yankees since Sept. 6, 2003 when they won 11-0 in New York.

* The four triples in April for Jackie Bradley Jr. are the most for a Red Sox hitter in that month since Jose Offerman in 1999.

* In his last nine games against the Yankees, Bradley is 14-for-31 (.452) with nine extra-base hits.

* Rick Porcello's 5-0 start to the season is the best run for a Red Sox starter since Josh Beckett was 7-0 in 2007.

* The Yankees have failed to homer in seven games this season; they're 0-7 in those games.

STARS:

1) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley had three extra-base hits (two triples and a double) for eight total bases, and knocked in three runs.

2) Rick Porcello

The Red Sox starter tossed seven shutout innings and allowed only two baserunners into scoring position while issuing just one walk.

3) Mookie Betts

Betts had a double in the second and a single in the sixth, good for three RBI, a season high for him.