Lester takes hard-luck loss versus Rays

191542.jpg

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

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

usatsi_9355232.jpg

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers:

QUOTES

* “(Matt) Bush has tremendous arm, but what we’ve seen . . . I don’t know that there’s anyone that throws a hard enough to get it by Mookie [Betts]. Just lightening bat speed . . . The dugout erupted when he caught it.” - Farrell said on Betts’ ninth inning homerun.

* “It was an outstanding comeback. Just a tremendous character win tonight by our guys. The work that our bullpen did tonight was just outstanding. ” - John Farrell said following the comeback win over Texas.

* “Koji comes back after a couple of rough outings and was vintage Koji here tonight.” - Farrell said on Uehara striking out the side in the ninth to earn the save

* “The homerun. Without that homerun, you don’t get to that wild pitch.” - Jackie Bradley said on what the Red Sox dugout was more excited about in the ninth.

* “Winning, to me that’s everything. I definitely want to go out there and throw the baseball better. I want to win myself. But at the end of the day I want the Red Sox to win.” - David Price said following the Red Sox win, despite his inability to keep the game close throughout the duration of his start.

NOTES

* David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his fourth inning single. He’s now 12 for his last 36 during his 10-game hitting streak.

* Sandy Leon’s ninth inning double was his 12th hit of the year. He’s now 12-for-22 (.545) to start his 2016 campaign. Four of his hits are doubles and he also has four RBI. 

* David Price’s 2.1-inning start is his shortest with Boston yet. The lefty gave up a season-worst 12 hits -- the most hits he’s given up since May 8th last season in a 6.1 inning start.

* Hanley Ramirez’s two-run homerun marks his third in the last ten games.

* The Red Sox improve to 22-3 when Jackie Bradley Jr. hits a homerun following his 13th homerun of the season.

STARS

1) Mookie Betts

Betts had over three hours between his two base hits, but his second proved the most important. He launched a 2-0 fastball into left center, tying the game in the ninth.

2) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley laced a homerun into the right field second deck to put Boston in striking distance at 7-4. In addition to knocking in two runs, he scored in the ninth after he walked, starting the ninth inning comeback. 

3) Koji Uehara

Despite struggling of late, Uehara was called on to close and struck out the side to seal the win. He was the final piece of the 6.2 innings of relief from the bullpen that came in one of Boston’s biggest wins of the year.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar

First impressions of the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers

usatsi_9355096.jpg

First impressions of the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers

First impressions of the Boston Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Texas Rangers:

Boston’s offense is always in striking distance.

The Red Sox had an uphill battle from the get-go thanks to David Price’s tough outing.

But somehow they took advantage of Texas’ equally bad pitching—that just happened to be more spread out than Boston’s bad pitching.

If Jackie Bradley Jr. doesn’t earn a walk, or Sandy Leon doesn’t fight tooth and nail for a two-out double in the ninth, that Mookie Betts homerun can’t happen.

The Red Sox need another long outing from Steven Wright.

Obviously they’d prefer a strong performance -- but the knuckler may need to bite the bullet if he’s off Saturday night.

Boston’s bullpen has been used and abused of late, and needs some rest following the Chicago series and a 2.1 inning outing from Price.

Price continues to struggle against the Rangers in his career.

Even when he was able to walk out of the first with just the one run after a bases loaded double play, but couldn’t clamp down with two outs.

The biggest reason he struggled wasn’t his velocity—although it seemed down most of the night—but his location. He left a lot of pitches up in the zone and Texas is not the team you can do that with.

Although Price was bound to have a rough start, this start went worse than anyone could’ve anticipated. To say this was a bad start is putting it nicely.

Texas gave him a nice wake-up call. He still has room to grow.

Matt Barnes had a solid performance.

It wasn’t his best, but given the situation, he did well. First off, the Rangers are a very hot team and swing early in the count. Barnes left the ball up time after times, but only surrendered the one run.

Additionally, he entered the game far earlier than he’s used to -- in the midst of a blowout where his team was on the wrong end. That’s not an easy thing to walk into for a reliever, especially one who’s used to pitching late in tight ballgames.

He gave Boston a chance when the offense started to gain momentum.

Hanley Ramirez’s power continues to show.

Although he’s not hitting at the rate he did to start the year, Ramirez laced another homer against the Rangers Friday night.

This homerun may have been his most impressive, coming on a 1-2 slider away, driving it to straightaway center -- the deepest part of the ballpark.

Boston just saw what they look like when they almost blow games.

All season the talk around the league has been how explosive the Red Sox lineup is.

Well, the Rangers offense is right there with them. The league’s hottest team didn’t waist any time scoring, and had 15 hits before Boston pitching recorded an out in the fifth inning.

Although the Red Sox outslugged Texas late, they saw what a potent offense outside the AL East can do -- and how bad pitching can undo all of that.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar

Report: Red Sox have inquired about trades for Braves’ pitchers

atlanta-braves-julio-teheran.jpg

Report: Red Sox have inquired about trades for Braves’ pitchers

While the Red Sox have inquired about both Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino from the Atlanta Braves, ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported, although Braves GM John Coppolella said he doesn’t see them trading Teheran.

In a Twitter chat with fans, Coppolella didn’t said he didn’t see the Braves parting with Teheran.

On MLB Network Radio, Bowden, a former major league GM, said Atlanta is interested Red Sox top prospects Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi, who naturally Boston would be very reluctant to part with.  

Teheran, a right-handed starter, is 3-7 but with a 2.66 ERA and Vizcaino, a right-handed reliever, is 1-2 with a 2.01 ERA  and 44 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings for the Braves, who are in last place in the National League East.