Game over: Rays 3, Red Sox 2
Terry Francona brought up three lefthanded pinch-hitters against Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth in the 9th. Farnsworth struck out Jacoby Ellsbury swinging. He got J.D. Drew on a called third strike after falling behind 3-0. And he retired David Ortiz on a fly ball to right field. Attendance was announced very late at 37,015. The game lasted 2:54.
Lester pitched well enough to win – a quality start with seven innings and three runs. Varitek said afterward, “If we continue to put together quality starts like that, we’ll be OK.” Varitek was also pleased with the manner in which they hit balls hard against David Price, but had nothing to show for it. Varitek thinks the Red Sox are “playing better baseball” right now and that will begin to show up in wins shortly.
One key play in the game was Adrian Gonzalez fielding a swinging bunt by Sam Fuld with the bases loaded in the fifth. It appeared Gonzalez was late getting the ball out of his glove and by the time he threw home for the force, Kelly Shoppach had beat the throw. Gonzalez may also have had a tag play and throw, but he did not admit to any difficulty in getting the ball out of his mitt, but rather, “I just wanted to make sure I got a good throw off to the (Varitek’s) chest at the plate so he could get the force play.”
Concerning Lester’s three games with no wins, Varitek said, “It’s not about Jon, it’s about us. We’re playing better. Losing isn’t fun for anyone right now. But guys are getting better at-bats. Swinging better.”
Francona acknowledged that given the way Jed Lowrie is swinging the bat (two doubles righthanded against Price) he must “look for ways to get him in there.”
Carl Crawford continues to struggle. He went 0-for-3 and is now hitting .152. On the flip side, Johnny Damon went 2-for-4 with two RBI and is now hitting .220 after a slow start.
The Sox are now 2-9, last place in the AL East.
Bottom 8th: Rays 3, Red Sox 2
The Sox got Pedroia as far as second base, but couldn’t get the tying run across. Pedroia had walked with one out and went to second on Gonzalez’ grounder to second base which Sean Rodriguez bobbled, but he managed to retire the slow-footed Gonzalez at first base. Youkilis was then hit by a Price pitch on the shirt which prompted Joe Maddon to take Price out with Jed Lowrie due up. Lowrie, a tough righthanded bat, had hit two doubles against Price and Maddon elected to go with righty Joel Peralta. Batting lefthanded, Lowrie flied out to center ending the threat.
Top 8th: Rays 3, Red Sox 2
The line on Jon Lester: 7 IP, 7 hits, 3ER, 2BB, 8 Ks. Daniel Bard came on. Damon singled and stole second base with one out. But Upton flew out to rightfield and with two outs, Felipe Lopez, batting cleanup in this lineup, grounded out to end the threat.
Bottom 6th: Rays 3, Red Sox 2
Jed Lowrie stroked a clutch two-out double scoring Pedroia (double) as the Sox chip away at David price.
.Top 5th: Rays 3, Red Sox 1
Johnny Damon knocked in a pair of runs with a single after Sam Fuld reached on a fielder’s choice scoring the first Rays run. Lester, so dominant for so long, put the first three Rays on with singles from bottom of the order hitters Kelly Shoppach, Dan Johnson and Elliott Johnson.
Top 4th: Red Sox 1, Rays 0
Lester is really dealing. He struck out the side in the fourth and five of the last six batters.
Bottom third: Red Sox 1, Rays 0
Darnell McDonald stroked a hanging breaking ball by Price over the Wall and off the Sports Authority sign in left field on an 0-1 pitch to give the Sox the lead.
Top 3rd: Red Sox 0, Rays 0
Far different story for Damon so far tonight. He’s struck out twice and stranded Sam Fuld at second base. Fuld, the Durham, N.H. native singled with two outs and stole second base against Lester.
Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 0, Rays 0
The Sox wasted a double by Jed Lowrie with one out. Mike Cameron and Jason Varitek couldn’t get him in. Opportunities are rare against Price.
Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Rays 0
Carl Crawford was hit with a pitch by David Price to start the inning, but Crawford was picked off by Price, who then got through the rest of the inning by striking out Dustin Pedroia and getting Adrian Gonzalez to fly to left.
Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Rays 0
A 1-2-3 inning by Jon Lester, who needs a good one tonight after last night’s disaster. Yes, they finally got Sam Fuld out – a ground out. And Johnny Damon struck out.