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Starts and stops

Lester, Sox washed out; doubleheader on tap tomorrow

By Adam Kilgore
Globe Staff / September 12, 2009

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As Jon Lester walked off the mound last night, not even an inning into his start, first base umpire Randy Marsh was in an apologetic mode. Lester recalled Marsh saying, “Hey, we shouldn’t have even started this thing.’’

But the Red Sox did start last night’s game and they will not finish it until tomorrow night. Rain postponed their game against the Rays and it will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader (the first game is at noon).

Lester will pitch that game, but last night he was disappointed his disjointed night was cut short, apparently without need. After Marsh leaned close to Lester and spoke to him, Lester tossed the baseball toward the backstop, the final throw anyone made last night at Fenway Park.

“It’s very frustrating,’’ Lester said. “We shouldn’t have even started the game. It’s different when you have a two-hour, hour-and-a-half window. But when you have a 30-minute window, are you trying to get five innings of baseball in 30 minutes? It’s very frustrating when you have to hurry up to warm up. You don’t know if we’re going to start on time. It’s one of those nights you have to deal with, try to get through.’’

Ticket-holders for the game originally scheduled for 1:35 p.m. tomorrow will be admitted for the 5 p.m. game, and ticket-holders for last night’s game will be admitted for the first game.

The Red Sox explained the decision to start the game in a press release.

“Based on the forecast information that was available at the time from the Red Sox private weather service, Meteorlogix, the gates were opened and the game started as scheduled. The forecast indicated that play was possible and every effort was made to get the game in.’’

Lester had experienced an aggravating game because of rain in mid-June. He pitched five innings against the Marlins before rain terminated that game. He took the loss. The crew chief who called that game? Marsh. Lester couldn’t help feeling slightly cursed by rain postponements.

“I guess,’’ Lester said. “They just like to follow me around.’’

After the loss to the Marlins, several Red Sox were outraged at the club’s decision to play the game, especially after it resulted in a loss. They said the club had acted foolishly to secure the gate. Last night, because the result did not harm the Red Sox - the game will start over from scratch - they took the decisions in stride.

“It’s much different,’’ said third baseman Mike Lowell, the most vocal critic of the handling of the loss to the Marlins. “They tried to get it in. I’ve got to believe they talked to people thinking it was doable. I don’t think we’re going to start the game thinking we’re not going to get it in.’’

The rain started before the game, which affected Lester’s warm-up. But the game started only about six minutes late. Lester allowed three singles - to Jason Bartlett, Carl Crawford, and Ben Zobrist, who dribbled a ball toward third base that Lowell had no chance to field - and recorded one out in 23 pitches. And then, with the rain pounding the field, Marsh called for the tarp.

“I figured it was one of those deals, a shower comes through,’’ Lester said, “We’ve done it before. It was going to pass.’’

After a 2-hour, 20-minute delay, the Red Sox officially postponed the game. (Had the game resumed, manager Terry Francona would have inserted Daniel Bard to try to escape the bases-loaded, one-out jam.) Though frustrated, Lester expressed no anger at the way the delay and postponement was handled.

“They have a business to run,’’ Lester said. “That’s their job. Their job is to run their business, and our job is to go out and play baseball. We’re kind of the employees of them. We do what we’re told. I think it was kind of a miscommunication on all parts. Stuff like this happens. I don’t think it’s really anybody’s fault. It just started raining. Can’t control that.’’

A doubleheader during the middle of a playoff race is not preferable, but, as Lowell pointed out, having extra players because of September call-ups will ease any fatigue.

Lester did not immediately know if he would start tomorrow and assumed it would be based on how he felt this morning, but Francona announced he would pitch the late game. Lester hoped he would get the chance to pitch tomorrow, so at least one thing went right for him.

“It was,’’ he said, “kind of a screwy night.’’

Adam Kilgore can be reached at akilgore@globe.com

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