Saturday, August 6, 2011

Red Sox Fall to Second Place After Lester's Rough 6th

Sports Illustrated

Yankees 3 Red Sox 2
Winning Pitcher: Boone Logan (3-2)
Losing Pitcher: Jon Lester (11-5)
Save: Mariano Rivera (29) 

Jon Lester had just one bad inning on Friday night, but it was enough for the Yankees to take the win and, in the process, seize first place from the Red Sox for the first time since early July. Lester didn't have the best command he's had all year, but he generally looked pretty good other than that 6th inning. His fastball maxed out at 95, and was averaging about 93 MPH throughout the outing. He recorded seven strikeouts for the outing, and five of them were with either his fastball or his cutter. (The other two were with the curveball). The problem for Lester during last night's game was his control. He issued four walks, only the fourth time all season he has allowed that many free passes, and the first time since May 30th. That rough sixth inning started when he issued a walk to Eduardo Nunez, the Yankees #9 hitter, with his team holding a 2-0 advantage. After Derek Jeter singled to move the speedy Nunez to scoring position, Curtis Granderson cut the lead to one with an RBI single. To add more to his problem, Lester then walked Mark Teixeira to load the bases. The game became tied when Robinson Cano grounded into a big double play, but a run still scored. Lester still couldn't get out of the inning, however, as he left a pitch over the plate for Nick Swisher to hit down the third base line for a ground rule double, giving the Yankees the lead. Lester would be pulled after the inning, and ended up with six innings, allowing the three runs on five hits, four walks and seven strikeouts.
The Red Sox offense couldn't get much going throughout the game, especially against the Yankees bullpen. They were able to get on the board first in the third inning, when none other than God himself, Jacoby Ellsbury, crushed an RBI double the other way off the Green Monster to score Marco Scutaro. The double was Ellsbury's 51st extra-base hit on the year, pushing him into a tie for 9th in all of baseball. In the next inning, David Ortiz, the guy who publicly bitched and moaned about having a single RBI taken from him the other night, took out his frustration on a Bartolo Colon slider, crushing one over the Red Sox bullpen to give them the 2-0 lead. In the 5th inning, the Boston offense had a chance to break the game open, with Adrian Gonzalez up with two outs and the bases loaded. This is the spot where you need your best hitter to come through, but Boone Logan, who came in right before the at bat, struck Gonzalez out on a nasty slider to avoid any runs in the inning. Yankees' relievers Logan, Cory Wade, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined to throw 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, no walks and five strikeouts. 

Quick Hits
  • Gonzalez's struggles were not just limited to that fifth inning. He went 0-4 on the night, snapping his 14-game hit streak. Good news: he hasn't had back-to-back hitless games since July 15th and 16th, and only five times all year.
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw out the only two runners who tried to steal off him last night, Jeter and Nunez. The guy who was once held in the minors because of his inability to throw the ball back to the pitcher has now thrown out five of his last seven base stealers, and has been one of the best catchers in this area for the past few months

The Red Sox and Yankees continue their series on Saturday afternoon at 4:10 PM ET on FOX. Boston will send John Lackey (9-8 6.23) to the mound against New York's CC Sabathia (16-5 2.55). 

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