Notes: Lester struggles; Gonzalez homers twice

Notes: Lester struggles; Gonzalez homers twice
May 10, 2011, 10:26 pm
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By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

TORONTO --- Jon Lester was long gone by the time Tuesday's extra-inning game was decided in favor of the Toronto Blue Jays. Still, he blamed himself for the Red Sox' 7-6, 10-inning loss.

Lester lasted just 5 13 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits. Command -- or lack thereof -- was an issue right from the start with three walks in the first inning, including one with the bases loaded to force in a run.

"All in all, it wasn't very good,'' concluded Lester. "The bullpen needed a break and I didn't do a very good job getting deep in the game.''

Lester was unhappy with some of the balls-and-strikes calls by home plate umpire Paul Emmel, but took responsibility for what unfolded.

"The interpretation is the guy behind the plate,'' said Lester, "and I have to do a better job controlling my emotions and not worrying about that and worrying about the next pitch. I didn't do a very good job with that and I let it get to me. Because of that, the inning went longer than it should.''

Lester walked a season-high five and allowed two homers, the first time he'd allowed multiple homers in a game since Opening Day.

"Today I just didn't have it,'' he said. "I didn't have good command of, really, anything. There was no pitch that I could go to that got me back in the count or got me to pitch to contact. You have these starts and I have to do a better job minimizing the damage and I didn't do that tonight.''

The Red Sox couldn't find a way to win, but that was hardly the fault of Adrian Gonzalez.

In the fifth, his opposite-field two-run homer put the Red Sox ahead for the first time, 4-3. Then, in the ninth, with the Sox trailing by a run, Gonzalez hit another one -- this one solo -- to tie the game at 6-6 and force extra innings.

After going 23 games without a homer, Gonzalez has now hit five homers in the last eight games.

"We're seeing what everyone has been talking about,'' said Terry Francona. "He leverages the ball to left field and looks like a right-hand hitter. It's unbelievable how that ball backspins. It's going to be fun to watch.''

For his part, Gonzalez was unimpressed with his individual display of power.

"I could care less -- Id rather go 0-for-5 and win,'' he said. "So it doesnt matter what I do if we lost. Its not about me.''

Saying the Red Sox wanted "to kill a bunch of birds with one stone,'' Terry Francona announced a rearranged rotation for the weekend series with the Yankees in New York.

The Sox will pitch Clay Buchholz Friday, Josh Beckett Saturday and Lester Sunday.

That means Daisuke Matsuzaka, who would have been scheduled to pitch Saturday, will be skipped and pushed back to Monday, giving him two extra days rest.

"We're giving Daisuke an extra couple of days,'' said Francona, "because we're trying to spread out a couple of guys and also line it up for how it seems to make sense.''

Among the factors that went into the decision:

-- The current setup matches the Red Sox' three best starters against the Yankees for the weekend series. In particular, Lackey (7.16) has been inconsistent, having given up six or more runs in half of his six starts to date and now won't have to face the Yanks.

"It sets us for the week the way we want it to be,'' said Francona.

-- Matsuzaka gets some extra rest two weeks after one of his starts was cut short because of fears that he had an elbow injury.

Matsuzaka later checked out fine through testing, but at the very least, the Sox were alarmed by the mysterious drop in velocity in that start.

He made his first major league relief appearance in the team's marathon 13-inning loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and had his start pushed back two days in response to that relief outing.

-- Finally, separating Matsuzaka and Beckett in the rotation makes it easier for catcher Jason Varitek, who regularly catches both pitchers. At 39, Varitek sometimes struggles to catch back-to-back games.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam