Lester haunted by lack of command

Lester haunted by lack of command
May 31, 2011, 4:16 am
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By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; Jon Lester will go back to the drawing board, but he wonthave to re-invent the wheel after Monday nights 7-3 loss to the Chicago WhiteSox at Fenway Park.

Lester allowed a season-high seven earned runs in sufferinghis second loss of the season. And the hot topic after his latest rough outingwas the leftys command.

It was one of those nights where I just battled myself,said Lester. I couldnt get in a rhythm. The ball was up. When I actually didthrow it over the plate, it was up.

Tonight, I really just didnt have a feel for anything. Istunk. Theres no other way to put it.

Lester allowed eight hits and a solo home run, but the mostconcerning numbers were his four walks and two hit batsmen. But even moreconcerning than those command issues was the fact that Lester was getting awayfrom what makes him shine.

According to Terry Francona, Lester was throwing far too many cutters. Its a devastatingpitch, when he uses it at the right time. But his overuse of the cutter hasbeen progressing over time, according to Francona.

Hes gotten into a little bit of a mode, where, his cutteris so good, but hes throwing a lot of them, said Francona. Weve got to gethim back to establishing fastball, changeup, breaking ball, and using thatcutter to put people away.

Its just getting to the point where its been a little bitmore and more. I mean, it is a great pitch, but hes throwing a lot of them.So, well go back to the drawing board a little bit, and have a good side withpitching coach Curt Young.

Ironically enough, it was a flat cutter that ended hisnight, but by no means was Alexei Ramirez bloop double to shallow right fielda frozen rope.

The game was tied at 3-3 in the top of the sixth, and Lesterwalked lefty Juan Pierre to load the bases with two outs. Ramirez then took acutter the other way, and dropped a ball just over the head of Adrian Gonzalezand barely to the left of the right-field line.

That scored two runs and gave the White Sox a 5-3 lead,ending Lesters night. Dan Wheeler then gave up a two-run, bases-clearingsingle to Carlos Quentin that made it a 7-3 game.

As much as were talking about him not commanding tonight,were 3-3, bases loaded, and we get a blooper that lands inside the chalk,said Francona. That was two runs there, and two more when he left.

The ball wasnt hit hard, but we walked a lefty to getthere. If you give the other team enough chances, sometimes those things happen.

And as we learned after the game, if Lester is throwing toomany cutters, thats not a good thing.

Its the only pitch I could throw for strikes, said Lester.I had no command of my fastball. I threw a couple decent changeups, and Ithink I threw one curveball for a strike, just because I got a check swing atit.

It was really the only pitch I could command, so we had touse it.

I think hes maybe going to the cutter because when hesgetting into binds, he knows he can get out of it with it, said Francona. Andtheres been more baserunners than probably normal.

Because the Red Sox have days off on Thursday and nextMonday, Lester won't pitch again until next Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. Inbetween now and then, they will, as Francona mentioned, go back to the drawingboard.

But nobodys panicking.

I dontneed to go out there and try to figure things out," said Lester. "I think it was just one ofthose deals tonight where I got a little ahead of myself at times, working eastto west, instead of north to south.

I dont need to throw an extended bullpen or anything likethat, yet, it will be nice to get an extra day. Weve been going pretty hard atit these past couple of go-arounds.

When hes going good, he will command better, saidFrancona. We get concerned about everything because thats our job. We try tofix it when its not perfect. And so will he. Hes such a perfectionist. Weretalking about him not commanding, but still, if that ball goes foul, he may endup the winning pitcher.

Danny Picard is onTwitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.