Lester struggles keeping pitches down vs D-Backs

Lester struggles keeping pitches down vs D-Backs
August 3, 2013, 12:00 am
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BOSTON -- As it's been said far too often this season, Friday wasn't Jon Lester's night.

Lester didn't pick up the loss, thanks to a two-run home run by Stephen Drew in the bottom of the sixth inning that tied the game at 6-6. But he could easily be looked at as the reason the Red Sox did not win on Friday night at Fenway.

The Arizona Diamondbacks scored six runs on Lester and ran him out of the game after just 4.1 innings. He allowed 11 hits which included a two-run Paul Goldschmidt home run in the top of the first.

Lester can't blame walks for his struggles on Friday night. He didn't walk anyone. But perhaps that was the problem. Lester kept mostly everything up in the zone.

"You make adjustments, but if you don't get the ball down, it doesn't matter," said Lester after the Red Sox' 7-6 loss. "The fastball was up, the cutter was up, everything, changeup was up. I mean, the adjustments don't matter if you don't get the ball down in the zone. And there was obviously a lot of fly balls here tonight that, in the past three or four starts, that hasn't been the case."

In Lester's last two starts, he showed that he could still pitch at a high level. Wins over Tampa Bay and Baltimore brought back memories of the old Lester, when he was considered one of the team's shutdown, dominant starters.

But this season has seen a whole lot of disappointment after a rock solid first month-and-a-half. Friday night, Lester was back to his struggling ways.

When the Red Sox took a 4-2 lead in the second inning, Lester still couldn't find the proper adjustment to keep the ball down when he wanted to. And four more hard-hit balls drove in four more Arizona runs.

Lester was pulled while trailing 6-4, with one out in the fifth after giving up a season high 11 hits.  It was the 29-year-old's shortest outing of the season.

"It was inconsistent location within the strike zone," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He didn't create any additional issues by dishing in walks. It was more of him trying to go away from some right-handers and he pulled the ball back to the middle of the plate or the inner-third.

"Not as sharp to his arm side, as he's been the last couple times out."

Lester said, to get back to that sharpness he had in the previous two starts, he just has to get the ball down in the zone, and keep it there.

"It's not like I need to re-invent any type of wheel or come out and start throwing right-handed or anything," said Lester. "It's pretty simple. Get the ball down. And if I do that, it's a different story tonight. When I was able to do that, I got some swing and misses, I got some bad contact, but I wasn't able to do it consistently tonight."