CLEVELAND — Jon Lester went into Sunday’s start against Cleveland tied for the second-most losses in the American League (10) and with an earned run average of 5.36, nearly two full runs higher than what his career mark had been.
“You know what? It sounds bad but there comes a point where you just need to forget about your stats and worry about trying to keep your team in the game,” the lefthander said. “That’s where I’ve kind of come to. Just keep them in the game as best I can. It’s one of those deals, you just have to go pitch.”
Perhaps it was that freedom that allowed Lester to pitch so well. An avalanche of run support didn’t hurt, either, as the Red Sox enjoyed a 14-1 victory at Progressive Field.
Lester allowed one run over six innings and struck out 12, one shy of his career best.
Adrian Gonzalez was 2 for 3 with a home run, a double, and four RBIs. Carl Crawford added three doubles and three RBIs as the Sox collected 16 hits against five Cleveland pitchers.
“My confidence never strayed. I know what kind of pitcher I am. I think I’ve proven that,” said Lester (6-10). “I knew that my stuff was there.”
This time, he got the proof and walked away with a smile. Cleveland hitters swung and missed at 20 of his pitches, an unusually high number for six innings. Of equal importance was the mix of pitches that produced those bad swings. Five were on curveballs and five on cut fastballs. He even got two on sinkers.
It was Lester's first victory since June 27.
• Gonzalez is hitting .393 (42 of 107) since the All-Star break with 35 RBIs in 28 games. He is up to .309 on the season and leads the team with 80 RBIs.
“I’m confident. I’m just trying to stay with it,” he said. “When things are clicking and you’re making contact with the pitches you want to make contact with, you feel good about it when you’re up there. You’re not hesitating; you’re not battling yourself. You’re out there ready to swing.”
• Crawford left the game with what Bobby Valentine described as a "minor" issue with his surgically repaired wrist.
"It was a little sore today. It is what it is. I've been playing with pain the whole time I've been back. It's just one of those things where it's a little more sore than other days today," said Crawford, who said another injection could be the answer.
• Will Middlebrooks felt something crunch when he was hit in the right wrist by a fastball on Friday night. He hoped at first that it was the Velco on his batting gloves. But he soon realized that it was something much worse.
“Once we came in, I really couldn’t move it much,” Middlebrooks said on Sunday. “I had a feeling it wasn’t good.”
X-rays taken at an emergency room revealed a broken pisiform bone, a diagnosis confirmed when Middlebrooks visited noted specialist Dr. Thomas Graham Saturday.
The pisiform, in simple terms, is a small pea-shaped bone that helps join the hand to the wrist.
His season is likely over. With the Red Sox falling out of contention, there is no reason to rush back their prized 23-year-old third baseman. Middlebrooks has been told he will not need surgery to repair the break. Although the bone is in two pieces, the hope is it will heal after his wrist is placed in a cast this week. He will be checked again in three weeks.
“Nothing was displaced, just broken,” Middlebrooks said. “I’m going to have to see how it goes the next few weeks … They said it should heal up fine. Times vary, everyone’s different.”
See the Globe tomorrow for more on Will.
• David Ortiz, who last week said he hoped to play against the Indians on Sunday, still isn’t ready to return from the disabled list. He has been out since July 17 with a strained right Achilles' tendon. Ortiz received only treatment on Sunday and will take Monday off. If he is able, he will work out in Baltimore before the game on Tuesday. But he does not know when his return will come.
“It’s not healing,” he said. “I thought I was getting there and it’s still sore and I still can’t run. I’m doing the best I can with it.”
Ortiz is being cautious, knowing than an Achilles' tendon tear would be career threatening for him. That injury, if it requires surgery, can knock a player out for 10 months or more.
“I hate watching games. I can’t watch games any more,” Ortiz said. “I want to be out there. But if I can’t run, I can’t really play.”
• Andrew Bailey is scheduled to pitch for Triple A Pawtucket at Buffalo. The closer, who has been out all season recovering from thumb surgery, could be activated this week ... Lefthanded reliever Rich Hill, out since early June with a strained flexor tendon in his elbow, is scheduled to start a rehabilitation assignment on Monday in the Gulf Coast League.