Frustrated Lester searching for answers

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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.

Pedro says David Price has shown signs of what it takes to be an ace

Pedro says David Price has shown signs of what it takes to be an ace

Pedro Martinez knows what it takes to be an ace. He also knows what it takes to pitch successfully in Boston.

And he believes David Price is capable of being the former and has the makeup to achieve the latter -- in time.

"I would just say, as a human being, I would say (he) has to make adjustments,'' said Martinez when asked what advice he would give Price. "It's the first year on a team that holds a lot of expectations. For David, it's just a matter of probably understanding how he feels comfortable around the things that he does, what David Price needs for David Price to feel more comfortable and make the adjustment as quick as possible.

"I believe he's capable of it. He's given a lot of signs that he's the ace we all expect. And, to be honest, I think he's going to be alright. It's just a matter of making the adjustment as quickly as possible.''

Whether Price may be trying too hard to justify his landmark $217 million deal, or unsure of how to handle the disappointing results he's provided, Martinez suggested that Price has to be mentally tough.

"Sometimes, it's within you what you can do,'' he said. "I think he has to trust what he can do. I think that probably trusting what he knows and what he's capable of doing would be the biggest key.''

Whatever the reason, Martinez doesn't believe there's a physical explanation for Price's struggles.

"I don't see anything wrong,'' he said. "His velocity is there. He can last eight, nine innings, easily. He's in great shape. He looks good overall, except some games just don't go his way and sometimes it doesn't look like everything (works) for him. But I believe he just has to trust what he is, the presence he has and his knowledge.

"It's up to you sometimes to say, 'Hey I know this. I know this situation, so I'm just going to go approach it.' And that's probably what he needs to do - is just trust who he is, what he knows and the stuff he has.''

When asked if he would approach Price and deliver a message, Martinez was careful.

''I don't want to invade anybody's territory,'' he said. "I would like to be respectful to him and also the coaching staff. I'm part of the organization. I'm here to help. But like I said, the biggest adjustment is the adjustment David Price makes. It's not really what Pedro says, or what Pedro used to do. David Price is David Price; Pedro Martinez is Pedro Martinez.''

Martinez was also asked about Clay Buchholz, who is currently serving a mop-up man in the bullpen.

"Bucky lost a little bit of confidence,'' said Martinez. "That's what it looks like to me. Right now, he doesn't really have a path to follow and I think he's missing (Jon) Lester, big time. He's missing (John) Lackey. He's missing probably relating to someone just like him, who really understands him from back (in the day) -- David Ross, Jason Varitek.

"I think he's mature enough to kind of understand what to do. But some people don't actually have that ability to understand what to do when times of struggles come.''

Finally, Martinez was asked about his reaction to the Red Sox dealing away pitching phenom Anderson Espinoza in the trade for Drew Pomeranz. Martinez had been a vocal supporter of Espinoza and predicted stardom for him.

"The thing is, you have to understand, this team is trying to work for today, for this year. That's the reason you produce those kind of players, so you can have the flexibility to move to different areas,” Martinez said. “I was extremely proud that I was part of the (group) that saw Espinoza from the first time and hopefully now the trade we made is going to end up helping us win the championship.

"And Espinoza probably will feel really proud that, if we win it this year, he was probably the biggest reason.''

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam

Report: Benintendi ‘front man’ in Chris Sale trade talks

Report: Benintendi ‘front man’ in Chris Sale trade talks

Any Red Sox trade discussions the past few weeks have pretty much begun and ended with their top two prospects, second baseman Yoan Moncada and outfielder Andrew Benintendi.

As the Red Sox continue their search for starting pitching, those two names keep coming up. So, naturally, comes a report Tuesday that puts Benintendi at the center of a deal for Chicago White Sox left-handed ace Chris Sale. 

Andrew Benintendi “could be the front man in a multi-player Chris Sale trade if talks progress,” according to Chicago-based mlb.com columnist Phil Rogers. 

With top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza dealt to the Padres in trade for Drew Pomeranz, the question is, would Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski further deplete his prospect reserve by dealing Benintendi, the 2015 first-round pick out of Arkansas who is hitting .276 with six homers and 36 RBI in 58 games at Double-A Portland? 

The Red Sox' performance is the next six games until the Aug. 1 trade deadline may hold the answer. 

 

Tuesday’s Red Sox-Tigers lineups: Wright tries to right Sox

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Tigers lineups: Wright tries to right Sox

The Red Sox send knuckleballer Steven Wright (12-5, American League-leading 2.57 ERA) to the mound tonight in the middle game of their three-game series with the Detroit Tigers. 

Wright has won his past four starts. The Tigers counter with right-hander Mike Pelfrey (3-9, 4.78). The Red Sox field their standard lineup, with Ryan Hanigan catching Wright, as they try to rebound from a 4-2 loss on Monday night. 

The lineups:

TIGERS
Ian Kinsler 2B
Jose Iglesias SS
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Victor Martinez DH
Nick Castellanos 3B
Justin Upton LF
Mike Aviles RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Tyler Collins CF

Mike Pelfrey

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

Steven Wright RHP