Boston Red Sox

Lester's solid outing results in no-decision

776676.jpg

Lester's solid outing results in no-decision

BOSTON -- Balls aren't finding gloves for Jon Lester at the moment.

The lefty allowed four runs (only two earned) in six-plus innings on Tuesday night, and he didn't factor into the decision in Boston's 8-6 extra-innings loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park.

Afterwards, Lester said he felt pretty good, allowing eight hits and striking out five while walking one in 99 pitches. And after all, he did leave the game in the seventh inning with a 4-3 lead.

But after left-hander Endy Chavez led off the seventh with a single, and all righties at the top of the Baltimore order due up, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had his bullpen perfectly lined up to enter the game, with Lester having thrown nearly 100 pitches.

"Any time you come out of a game, it's tough," said Lester. "But our bullpen's been great. Just a little hiccup tonight. No big deal. Next time we're in that situation, they'll pick me up. That's the way baseball goes. Obviously I'm not worried about it."

Scott Atchison and Matt Albers came in and allowed three more runs to score. But Lester -- even still a game under .500 -- didn't seem too distraught. He knows his bullpen will be better the next time, and he felt good out there, personally.

An error to Mike Aviles in the third inning put runners on first and second with one out, and then a sacrifice fly put runners on first and third with two outs. The error proved to be costly because it gave the Orioles an extra out to work with, and they made Lester pay, as Adam Jones and Matt Wieters each singled to drive in two third-inning runs and put Baltimore up 2-0 early.

"I felt good," said Lester. "I feel like I threw the ball pretty well, with the exception of two balls, or really one: the triple in the first. And then, I don't really know how Wieters hit that ball in the third.

"The balls that aren't squared up for me aren't finding gloves right now. It's just part of baseball. You've just got to keep throwing, and hopefully it will turn around for me."

Valentine also thought Lester threw the ball well on Tuesday. It just didn't play out the way he had hoped.

"Jon battled too," said Valentine. "The first two runs, he thought he was out of the third inning I think with the ground ball. And they scored a couple, and then we tied it. And then he gave that one up in the sixth. And after he gave up a hit to Endy Chavez, I thought Lester had just had enough . . . Jon threw the ball pretty well."

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

red_sox_jackie_bradley_christian_vazquez_091917.jpg

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.

MORE:

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.

CSNNE SCHEDULE

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

red_sox_celebrate_091917.jpg

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.