Boston Red Sox

Lester fights through soggy conditions

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Lester fights through soggy conditions

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
BOSTON -- Jon Lester expected rain during Saturdays doubleheader. With Hurricane Irene on the way, it was in the forecast for Boston. He just didnt count on it causing significant delays when he was pitching.

I figured coming in that my game was going to be fine, he said following the Red Sox 9-3 win over the Oakland Athletics. I knew obviously that tonight we had the threat of some rain, but I figured that this afternoon was going to be fine and it wasnt going to be a problem. But obviously I was wrong on that.

Lester threw six innings, which included passing showers, and limited the As to just three hits and one earned run (he gave up a homerun to Brandon Allen in the second inning).

But by the time Lester (14-6, 3.09 ERA) took the mound to start the seventh inning with a 9-2 lead, the downpours had intensified. He noticed problems gripping the ball as he continued to warm up.

They were bad, he said of the conditions. The mound wasnt that bad. It was just any time you took the ball out of your glove, it was wet. Just had no grip. I was trying to explain that to the umpires and I think after I threw the second one off the backstop, I think they finally got the idea that it wasnt safe to be out there at that time.

Lester added, I know what theyre (the umpires are) trying to do -- theyre trying to get the game in -- and I understand that. But theres a point where you have to kind of say ok enoughs enough.

The umpires called a rain delay before the top of the seventh inning which lasted 45 minutes. Dan Wheeler came in for Lester once play resumed, but torrential rain forced another delay after the inning was completed. This time, it lasted two hours and 15 minutes.

Although the second game of the doubleheader was scheduled to start at 5:00pm, the umpires ruled the first game had to be completed before the second could begin. Game 2 began at 6:52pm.

Following Game 1 Umpiring Crew Chief Tim McClelland told a pool reporter he consulted with Joe Torre, Major League Baseball Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, on the decision to complete the first match up. During a doubleheader between the Red Sox and Minnesota Twins in 2009, an unevenly scored first game was called after seven innings (the Red Sox won, 10-1) to let the rain clear up for the second game.

That was an aberration, said McClelland. According to the rules, that cant happen or shouldnt happen. They (Major League Baseball) didnt want that. They wanted this game to finish.

When asked about the decision to complete Game 1, Terry Francona took it all in stride.

I don't know if it's a hard and fast rule or if it's judgment, he said. I dont know. We just go where they tell us.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA

Drellich: In appreciation of a peculiar, throwback Red Sox offense

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Drellich: In appreciation of a peculiar, throwback Red Sox offense

BALTIMORE — On the night Major League Baseball saw its record for home runs in a season broken, the team with the fewest homers in the American League took a scoreless tie into extra innings.

In the 11th, the Red Sox won in a fashion they hadn’t in 100 years.

Just how peculiar was their 1-0 win over the Orioles, the AL leaders in homers? The lone run came when Jackie Bradley Jr. bolted home on a wild pitch from Brad Brach. So? So, the Red Sox won, but did not officially record a run batted in on the day MLB’s greatest league-wide power show to date was celebrated.

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The last time the Sox won an extra-inning game without recording an RBI was a century ago, in 1918. Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth played in that game. 

It’s a weird time for the Sox offense. A weird year, really. Because the Sox are in first place, and have been, but they don’t drive the ball. Their .408 slugging percentage was the fifth lowest in the majors entering Tuesday.

They’re also in the bottom third for strikeouts, the top five in steals and the top 10 in batting average (.260). That's the description of an effective National League offense. An old-school, move-the-line group that makes more contact than all but four teams in the majors. 

The rest of baseball is switching to golf swings to pound low-ball pitching. The Sox look like they could be on a black-and-white newsreel shuffling around the bags.

Should you have faith in that method come the playoffs? There's reason to be dubious.

But the construction should be appreciated for the sake of disparity, both in the context of recent Red Sox history and the sport’s home-run renaissance.

Alex Gordon of the Royals hit the season’s 5,964th home run Tuesday, besting the record mark set in 2000 — dead in the middle of the steroid era.

At present, the Sox lineup is particularly out of sorts because of injuries. Dustin Pedroia should be back Wednesday, but was out of the starting lineup Tuesday. Hanley Ramirez isn’t starting either. Eduardo Nunez’s rehab from a knee injury is coming along, but may not move quite as quickly as expected.

Even if all are healthy, this group remains strange. Because the Sox offense looks so different than what people expect of the Sox, the opposite of what people expect of an American League East-winning team. The opposite of what people expect of any American League team, period.

The arms are the driving force for the Sox, and must remain so if they’re to be successful in October. The sturdiness of the bullpen, tired but resolute, cannot be understated when the workload is extended in September. No team can go 15-3 in extra-inning games without stellar and timely pitching.

But the entirety of pitching coach Carl Willis’ staff has been wonderful. Drew Pomeranz didn’t have his best fastball velocity on Tuesday and was still effective in 6 1/3 innings.

The outfield play can’t be overlooked either. Bradley’s a brilliant patrolman in center field and his leaping catches to rob home runs — he took one away from Chris Davis Tuesday — have been their own attractions.

The Sox, meanwhile, just don't hit many balls far enough to be robbed.

If you’re cut from an old-school cloth, and didn’t really love those station-to-station, home-run powered offenses of yore, this Sox team is for you. There's something to be said for the experience of simply watching something different.

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Red Sox use wild pitch to beat Orioles 1-0 in 11 innings

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Red Sox use wild pitch to beat Orioles 1-0 in 11 innings

BALTIMORE - Jackie Bradley Jr. scored the game's lone run on a wild pitch by Brad Brach in the 11th inning, and the Boston Red Sox used six pitchers to silence the Baltimore Orioles' bats in a 1-0 victory Tuesday night.

Boston has won 10 of 13 to move a season-high 23 games over .500 (87-64) and draw closer to clinching a postseason berth. The Red Sox started the day with a three-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees in the AL East.

It was the second straight tight, lengthy game between these AL East rivals. Boston won in 11 innings on Monday night and is 15-3 in extra-inning games.

With a runner on second and two outs in the 11th, Brach (4-5) walked Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts to load the bases for Mitch Moreland, who sidestepped a bouncing pitch from Brach that enabled Bradley to score without a throw.