Early trouble complicates things for Lester


Early trouble complicates things for Lester

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA

BOSTON -- Jon Lester doesnt want to over-complicate things at this point in the season, but thats exactly what got him in trouble on Saturday.

Lester gave up four earned runs in the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. He struggled early on, and rather than sticking with what has gotten him to this point, he tried hard -- harder than he should have.

I wasnt making pitches, he said. First batter of the game, just had no rhythm, had no feel for anything, overthrowing a little bit. A couple of them, got ahead of a guy, trying to make a perfect pitch instead of just making a quality pitch like I had done previous to that. So just more or less getting myself into trouble.

Lester (15-8, 3.15 ERA) gave up a two-run home run to Ben Zobrist in the first inning. Desmond Jennings scored on a wild pitch in the third, and Evan Longoria drove in Brandon Guyer in the fifth.

Terry Francona noted Lester got himself into deep counts, and while he gave him credit for going seven innings, he still had problems with pitches.

He got us through seven, Francona said. I think it was pretty obvious he wasnt commanding like he can. It was a lot of deep counts.

"Hes so good and he competes so much though that he finds a way to get that deep in the game, but hes not hitting his spots as consistently as he usually does. Thats probably the best way I can put it.

Rather than overanalyze his performance, Lester kept it simple after the game, the way he wanted to on the mound.

I wouldnt do a fire sale here and say theyre the greatest team and Im the worst pitcher, he said. I think theyve done a good job the past two series against us, but it comes down to executing pitches and I didnt do that for the majority of today.

He added, You stick around and you give a team a chance to win, were going to be on the other side of those more times than not. So as far as that, I did my job. But . . . they pitched better than me, so thats kind of the story today.

Lester shared the same sentiments of many of his teammates -- hes not about to start panicking and reading too much into one game. The season may be winding down, but there are still plenty of games to be played.

This isnt our first go-around at this, he said. We have plenty of guys in that clubhouse that have been here, gone to the postseason, won a World Series, so this isnt like this is all new to everybody and were just trying to get through it. I dont think anybodys pressing.

I think its easier when youre coming from behind than where were at. I think thats probably the biggest thing is they have no pressure. Were the ones that need to play well and the past three nights I think we have. But they played better two out of three, so weve just got to keep grinding it out.

"Weve still got, 12, 13 (games) somewhere in there. Weve got a long ways to go still. Like I said, just keep grinding it out. Its clich but thats what it is. Thats the mindset of our clubhouse right now, just one pitch, one at-bat at a time.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA.

McAdam: Amid the champagne flowing, a focus on Farrell’s fight

McAdam: Amid the champagne flowing, a focus on Farrell’s fight

NEW YORK - Scenes from a celebrating clubhouse, late Wednesday night:

*As champagne flowed and was sprayed to every virtually corner of the visitor's clubhouse, plots were being hatched.

Some mischevious players gathered to plot out their plan of attack and select a new victim.

Once all teammates had been targeted, the focus shifted to others -- preferably the nicer dressed visitors.

Principal owner John Henry, dressed in a suit, was spared - both out of decorum, and, one senses, self-preservation. In past years, someone like Kevin Millar might have entertained such a notion, but this group lacks that same sort of bold figure.

Then, finally, the group spied manager John Farrell being interviewed across the way. The group -- mostly pitchers -- assembled and then circled the manager before finally dumping bottle after bottle of champagne on Farrell's head.

But this display went beyond prank. There was a genuine affection for the manager as the surrounding players whooped and hollared and the the bubbly flowed.

"He's a fighter,'' remarked Mookie Betts. "He instilled that in us. You fight to win.''

Torey Lovullo, who managed the team in Farrell's absence last year and has been a close friend for years, was overcome with emotion.

"I told him I loved him,'' Lovullo said. "For what he's done, to come out on the other side health-wise....he's the leader of this team. It's very satisfying for all of us that have been behind him.''

Players messed his hair, patted him on the back, and Farrell, with a huge smile, stood and -- literally -- soaked it in.

For the past few days, Farrell had gone to great lengths to turn the focus away from his personal story -- one that saw him beat back cancer a year ago -- and turn it back to the players.

Hours before the clinching, Farrell had deflected a few questions about his own story, insisting he wasn't the centerpiece to what had taken place.

But for a few minutes Wednesday night, he was.


*While there were prominent veterans celebrating a division title — from 40-something David Ortiz and Koji Uehara to team greybeards such as Dustin Pedroia -- it was hard not to notice the number of young players under 26 who form the Red Sox’ foundation.

Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Rodriguez, Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada are all young and still improving.

With Ortiz headed to retirement, Uehara eligible for free agency and uncertainty surrounding others, it's clear that the young core will form the nucleus of Red Sox teams for years to come.

The organization's hope is that that same group will help ensure against the up-and-down trajectory of recent seasons -- last, first, last, last and now first again.

"I think the way baseball's going these days,'' Henry told the Boston Herald, "if you don't have good young players, you're in trouble.''

"Looking ahead,'' added Pedroia, "we've got a lot of young players who are just going to get better.''