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

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This is the kind of season it has been for Clay Buchholz:

A little more than a month ago, he was merely taking up space on the Red Sox roster, having been summarily removed from the rotation after three months of poor outings.

He was in the bullpen, but the Sox were loathe to use him. Asked, memorably, why Buchholz hadn't been the choice to serve as a long reliever in a game in which the starter departed early, John Farrell candidly noted, in not so many words, that because the Sox still had a chance to win the game, Buchholz didn't make sense as an option.

Ouch.

But slowly, Buchholz became more effective in his new relief role. And when injuries struck the rotation, Buchholz got himself three cameo starts, during which he posted a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, topped by Tuesday's beauty -- 6 1/3 innings, one run allowed, nine strikeouts recorded.

Just as Buchholz has straightened out, however, Red Sox starters are suddenly stacked up like jets waiting for clearance to land at Logan Airport. Steven Wright returns from a brief DL stint Friday, and Eduardo Rodriguez is not far behind.

When he pitched poorly, the Red Sox didn't have any other options.

When he pitched well, the Red Sox have plenty of other choices.

So, now what?

"As far as Clay goes,'' said John Farrell, "this will be, I'm sure, a conversation (had) within (the organization). But setting that aside, he's throwing the ball exceptionally well right now.''

That's indisputable.

But the question remains: In what capacity will he throw the ball in the near future?

There's been a suggestion to keep Buchholz in the rotation while moving Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen. That would give the Sox a dependable lefty in relief -- as opposed to, say, Fernando Abad -- while also serving the dual purpose of putting a governor on Pomeranz's climbing innings total.

Pomeranz, who has plenty of bullpen experience in the big leagues, has also thrown 140 1/3 innings this season, eclipsing his previous major league high by nearly 40.

But Pomeranz is 27, not 21. He's shown no signs of fatigue. To the contrary, he's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts. The Sox shouldn't mess with his success.

Instead, Buchholz should become one of the team's high-leverage set-up weapons, available in the seventh or eighth inning.

True, Buchholz doesn't have the swing-and-miss capability you'd prefer to have in the eighth inning, where the fewer balls put in play, the better off you are. But he can get lefties and righties out, and, pitching out of the stretch full-time, he's greatly improved his command.

Buchholz would remain the best option for a spot start if one of the five Red Sox starters faltered or got hurt. But the bullpen remains the best choice for him.

Ironic, isn't it? When he pitched poorly, he remained in the rotation for several months. Now that he's pitching superbly, he can't earn a permanent spot.

It's been that kind of season.

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

With Wright and Rodriguez set to return, Sean McAdam joins SNC to discuss whether Tuesday’s game against the Rays will be the last start for Clay Buchholz.