By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Red Sox turned to Jon Lester Sunday to snap them out of their worst losing streak since April. For one day at least, that trust was misplaced.
Lester labored through a 43-pitch first inning during which the Tampa Bay Rays scored three times. Thanks to the early elevated pitch count, Lester was done after just four innings, having thrown 111 pitches.
The three runs in the first were more than Lester allowed in his first three previous starts combined.
"He was kind of scattering balls," said Terry Francona of his lefty, "and you could tell by the pitch count how hard they were making him work."
"I didn't have anything today," confessed Lester who lost for the first time since Aug. 10. "It was one of those days where I had no command of one pitch. I didn't have a pitch that could get me back into counts.
"No excuses. I just picked the wrong time to have one of these."
After the three runs in the first, Lester battled and stranded two runners in the second and allowed just one run over his final three innings.
But the Sox weren't having any success against James Shields and the 4-1 deficit seemed far bigger than it was.
"He doesn't give up a ton of runs because he's good," said Francona. "But that was real hard work for him today."
The outing was the shortest for Lester since July 5 when he lasted just four innings against Toronto.
Sean McAdam can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam
As good as things have gone for the Red Sox so far in 2016, their 2017 prospects took a bit of a blow over the weekend.
Sam Travis -- one of the organization's top prospects, and someone who opened a lot of eyes with an impressive spring-training showing this year -- suffered a torn ACL on Sunday while playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox and will be lost for the rest of the season. He was hurt while playing first base, collapsing as he chased down an opposition baserunner during a rundown play. He had to be helped off the field, and the extent of the injury was announced on Monday.
With David Ortiz retiring at the end of this season and Hanley Ramirez expected to replace him as the full-time designated hitter, the door was open for Travis to become the Red Sox' first baseman next year. Playing at Triple-A for the first time, the 22-year-old Travis -- honored by the Red Sox as their Minor League Offensive Player of the the Year in 2015 -- was hitting .272/.332/.434 with 10 doubles, 6 home runs and 29 RBI in 47 games.
Now, however, it's almost a complete certainty Travis won't be able to start next season in Boston. And depending on what the Red Sox do in the offseason to replace Ortiz, such as a signing a free agent to a multiyear contract, Travis' path upward in the Sox organization may become less wide open . . . if not blocked.
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