Lester takes hard-luck loss versus Rays

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Lester takes hard-luck loss versus Rays

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON There was not much more Jon Lester could do Tuesday night -- except get a win.

Despite holding the Rays to three runs on seven hits over seven innings, with two walks and eight strikeouts, Lester and the Red Sox fell to the Rays, 3-2. Their record fell to 2-9, the worst in baseball.

Lester has been as much a hard-luck loser as the Sox have seen this season. It was his second straight quality start -- he shut out the Indians over seven innings in Cleveland on Thursday -- but he still doesn't have a win to show for it.

In this game Lester was matched against David Price, Tampa Bays ace and another of the American Leagues elite left-handers. Price (1-2) earned his first win of the season.

After Daisuke Matsuzakas disastrous outing Monday night, which lasted just two innings and taxed the bullpen, Lester gave manager Terry Francona exactly what was expected of him.

He knows what were up against tonight, Francona said. Were not knocking the ball all over the ballpark. They got one of the best lefties in the league, too. And we just didnt do enough.

In the first inning, Lester got Sam Fuld to ground out to Marco Scutaro at shortstop, before striking out Johnny Damon and B.J. Upton to end the inning. Lester struck out Damon to end the third inning, and then struck out Tampa Bays three, four and five hitters Upton, Felipe Lopez, and Sean Rodriquez in the fourth. From the third to the fourth, five of the six outs were on strikeouts.

But Lester faltered in the fifth. After retiring the first batter, he surrendered a single on an 0-and-2 pitch to Kelly Shoppach. Dan Johnson and Elliott Johnson followed with singles of their own, loading the bases and bringing Sam Fuld to the plate.

Fuld hit a swinging bunt to Adrian Gonzalez, charging from first. Gonzalez appeared to have just a bit of trouble getting the ball out of his glove before he threw home and Shoppach slid in safely, tying the score and keeping the bases loaded.

Damon then singled to center, scoring both Johnsons and putting Tampa Bay in front, 3-1. It was all the Rays would need.

Were facing one of the better guys in the league tonight, just like they were, said Francona. I dont think you ever go into a game against a guy like Price and think youre going to knock him around the ballpark.

I thought Lester was every bit as good. They bunched all their hits right about in a row. They got a swinging bunt. The 0-2 pitch to Shoppach to start it off, Lester left it out over the plate and Shoppach served a ball into left. Then a couple balls were hit, Johnnys ball up the middle . . . But I thought Lester was really good.

Jason Varitek, who caught Lester, was just as impressed.

I thought he did well, Varitek said. He kept us in the game. That inning could have gotten further away. He made pitches to keep it at 3-1 . . .

"After that, Lester battled and stayed and didn't let it get away from him.

Wins for Lester -- and the team -- have been hard to come by this season.

We dont have a whole lot of wins ourselves and its not about Jon, Varitek said. Its about us. Were playing better and we just got to push and find a way to win a game.

Its not a whole lot of fun for anyone. But everyones doing their work, going about their business right. And if we continue to throw a quality start like that, were going to win a lot of games.

Lester accepted his tough luck.

Four singles beat me, or whatever it was, five singles, he said. But you know what? Ill take that every start, if youre going to beat me with singles, and then tip my hat. The only pitch Id want back in that inning is the ball I threw to Damon. Just right side of the plate, just up a little bit, he was able to put a good swing on it. But I dont really know what else to say about it.

The Sox have been at a loss -- for words and games -- for much of the season. With the combination of the Red Sox loss, the Rays win, and Houstons win, the Sox now have the worst record in baseball.

I think its a combination of everything on every night, Lester said. I thought we played really good tonight. If our record wasnt what it is right now I dont think really too many guys would be worried about tonight. But, obviously, we know what were up against right now.

"But we just got to keep grinding. Everybody in that clubhouse is going to show up every day. Its the same deal every night we talk to yall. Its the same answers and its clich-y, but its the truth. We show up every day. Everybodyd in that clubhouse cares. Everybody wants to play hard. Everybody wants to do good. Were trying. Itll come. Its obviously not what we wanted right now but its too much talent in that clubhouse to be where we're at right now.

Asked what would help right his team, Lester replied:

We need a night like Tampa Bay had Monday night when the Rays scored 16 runs on 20 hits. We need a night where we show up and we just pound the baseball and we do everything right. I think also a night where . . . we come from behind and get a win. That, I think, would get us going. Were just not putting everything together.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

McAdam: Red Sox relievers didn’t do the job vs. Toronto

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McAdam: Red Sox relievers didn’t do the job vs. Toronto

Sean McAdam joins SNC to discuss the Red Sox bullpen giving up a 4-run lead in the late innings of their loss to the Blue Jays.

Watch the video above.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays

Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays…

1) Toronto’s offense can never be taken lightly.

Coming into the series, the Blue Jays had scored 197 runs, putting them in the middle of the pack among all Major League teams and averaging four runs per game. In the two games against Boston, they’ve scored 17 runs.

So an offense that had appeared to be dormant has been woken up thanks to some subpar Red Sox pitching.

It seems like these two teams are very similar and could be in opposite positions just as easily. The Blue Jays are only three behind in the win column (five in the loss), so Boston needs to win David Price’s Sunday start to widen the gap and cut their three-game skid.

2) Craig Kimbrel is only effective for so long.

Boston’s closer wasn’t giving excuses following Saturday’s game -- and this isn’t one either.

Saturday’s 39-pitch performance wasn’t just his season-high, but his career high in pitches.

This not only resulted in a drop in Kimbrel’s velocity, but it exposed flaws in the Red Sox’ pen. Kimbrel is truly a one-inning guy, so if Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara can’t get him the ball, he’s useless.

And it seems like Uehara won’t be used on back-to-back days frequently in the near future, so Boston won’t be able to use Tazawa in a seventh inning role with much consistency.

Somewhere along the way Dave Dombrowski will need to find another reliever for the back-end of the bullpen.

3) Offense can only take a team so far.

Both teams had big offensive days, in large part because pitchers from both sides made a lot of mistakes -- but they still took advantage of them.

Had the Red Sox been the home team in this contest, there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t have won -- just based on the progression of the game and ignoring any statistical splits.

If the Red Sox are serious about making the postseason, they need pitching to pick up the slack once in a while. Because when they hit the road late in the year, games like will slip away when quality pitching is lacking.

Quotes, notes and stars: 'Unfortunate situation at a key moment'

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Quotes, notes and stars: 'Unfortunate situation at a key moment'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays:
 
QUOTES
*“We’ve seen Hanley [Ramirez] catch that ball multiple times...An unfortunate situation at a key moment.” John Farrell said of the final play of the game.
 
*As soon as I let it go I thought he was out...I feel like that game kind of slipped away from us.” -Travis Shaw said of his throw in the final play of the game.
 
*“Everybody was so excited on the bench. We’d lost the lead and to have him come through in that situation . . . It was huge.” -Hanley Ramirez on David Ortiz’s go-ahead homerun in the ninth inning.
 
*“We’re a strike away on a number of occasions . . . you watch the attack plan all day long right-handers with curveballs were having success against [Justin] Smoak.” -Farrell said of the bullpen’s performance and Smoak’s ninth inning hit off Craig Kimbrel.
 
*“If he makes an accurate throw he’s out.” -Farrell on Christian Vazquez’s errant throw in the ninth inning.
 
*“In some key spots we gave an extra 90 feet when otherwise we have not of late.” -Farrell said about Boston’s inability to execute late in the game.

NOTES
*Xander Bogaerts has hit safely in his last 21 games, extending his streak with a home run to lead off the fourth inning. He’s hitting .402 with five home runs during the streak. Bogaerts logged his ninth three-hit game of 2016.
 
* Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to five games with his first-inning double. Pedroia has also hit safely in his past 22 games against Toronto. He’s hitting .444 during the short streak.
 
*David Ortiz extended his own hitting streak to six games with a double in the fourth. He's hitting .520 over that span.
 
* Russell Martin logged his fifth multi-hit game of the season -- and first three-hit game -- smacking a double and a home run. Martin entered the game batting .179 with three extra-base hits.
 
 
STARS
1) Russell Martin

Not only did he score the winning run, but he also tied the score in the ninth and launched a home run earlier in the game.
 
2) Xander Bogaerts
Another threre-hit performance, extending his hitting streak to 21 games, Bogaerts keeps creating headaches for opposing pitchers.
 
3) Rick Porcello
On a day where pitchers from both side scuffled, Porcello’s 6 2/3-inning effort gave Boston more than enough of a chance to win.