Lester, Sox at a loss as first half of season ends


Lester, Sox at a loss as first half of season ends

BOSTON Jon Lesters first half ended as fruitlessly for the Red Sox as it began. With a loss.

Sunday night in the first-half finale against the Yankees at Fenway Park, Lester lasted just 4 13 innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on nine hits and two walks with six strikeouts. He took the loss, as the Sox fell to the Yankees, 7-3. Lesters record fell to 5-6 while his ERA rose to 4.49.

Lester set the tone for his outing by following a frustrating trend for Sox starters in the four-game set with the Yankees. In all, Sox starters gave up 14 runs in the first inning of each of the games. Lester gave up two Sunday, digging a hole for himself to work from. He needed 29 pitches (17 strikes) to get through the inning.

"Jon had another uphill battle," Bobby Valentine said. "He was throwing the ball well. You look up and he's at 100 pitches in the fifth inning."

This was the first time Lester had faced the Yankees this season. He has lost his last three starts against New York, after winning his previous five. He is now 2-2 with a 5.11 ERA in 8 career starts against the Yankees at Fenway.

This was the third-shortest outing of Lesters 18 starts this season.

Well, obviously not good, Lester said of his latest outing. Got to get deeper in the game somehow than what I did. Too many pitches, too many foul balls, too many deep counts. Just kept giving people any opportunity to get back in the count. And with a good team like that, you cant do that.

Facing six batters in the first inning, Lester allowed the first three to reach base, with one scoring, before he could record an out.

Derek Jeter singled to right field, Curtis Granderson singled to center, and Mark Teixeira doubled to left, scoring Jeter. After Alex Rodriguez popped out, Robinson Cano walked and Nick Swisher grounded into a fielder's choice to third base, with Granderson scoring.

Down by two after the top of the first, the Sox offense fought to stay in contention. But each time, Lester allowed the Yankees to pull ahead. Trailing 3-2 after four, Lester allowed the first two New York batters to reach in the fifth Mark Teixeira on a single and Alex Rodriguez on a triple, scoring Teixeira. Andruw Jones' one-out single two batters later scored Rodriguez, knocking Lester from the game. But the deficit was too much for the Sox offense to overcome.

I thought he had great stuff, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He was throwing a cutter to both sides of the plate early in the count, late in the count, breaking ball, changeup. They got the runs early but he made some good pitches. Ball just kept finding a hole. You cant really explain it and you cant really talk about anything. I thought he made some really good pitches tonight.

The Sox are 11-7 in Lesters starts this season. He knows he has to give the Sox a better chance of winning games in the second half if the team is to have any postseason hopes.

Its important, Lester said. Its a horseexpletive first half. I can only speak for myself. Uncharted water for me. Just got to keep grinding it out. Cant give up. I just got to keep working. That's all I can control, is showing up every day, working hard and things are going to turn around.

Perhaps the All-Star break is coming at the right time.

Bradley, Betts, Pedroia are A.L. Gold Glove finalists


Bradley, Betts, Pedroia are A.L. Gold Glove finalists

Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field, Mookie Betts in right and Dustin Pedroia at second base are the Red Sox' finalists for the American League Gold Glove awards.

The Blue Jays’ Kevin Pillar and the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier are the other A.L. center field finalists. The White Sox’ Adam Eaton and Astros’ George Springer are A.L. right field finalists. Joining Pedroia as second base finalists are the Mariners’ Robinson Cano and Tigers’ Ian Kinsler.

Peoria has won four Gold Gloves. Bradley and Betts have yet to win one.

The full list of finalists is here.  The awards will be presented on Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. on ESPN

The Red Sox sent out a series of tweets backing each player’s candidacy.

Betts is also a front-runner for the American League Most Valuable Player.


Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League


Ortiz wins Hank Aaron Award as top hitter in American League

CLEVELAND -- David Ortiz is heading into retirement with some more hardware.

The Boston Red Sox slugger captured the Hank Aaron Award on Wednesday as the top hitter in the American League this season. Budding Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant was honored as the top hitter in the National League.

The award was presented before Game 2 of the World Series between the Cubs and Cleveland. It was determined through a combination of fan voting and a panel that includes Aaron and other Hall of Fame players.

The 40-year-old Ortiz hit .315 with 38 home runs, 127 RBIs and 48 doubles in the 20th and final season of his major league career. His 541 career home runs rank 17th all-time.

The 24-year-old Bryant hit .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBIs while helping the Cubs cruise to the NL Central title and eventually a spot in the World Series. Shortly after being honored, Bryant singled in the first inning for his first Series hit.