Early in the afternoon, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said that in his two starts this season, Jon Lester had thrown the ball as well any pitcher in the league but he had nothing to show for it.
Maybe he jinxed him.
Lester gave up seven runs on eight hits, including a long home run in the second-inning to Texas first baseman Mike Napoli, in a 18-3 loss to the Rangers at Fenway.
He matched the shortest outing of his career, when he went just two innings and gave up nine runs on eight hits in a 16-2 loss to Toronto two years ago at the Fens.
Coming into his Fenway debut, it seemed like all Lester needed was run support. He was winless but his ERA was 2.40 (four earned runs in 15 innings pitched).
The Sox gave him a quick lift when Dustin Pedroia blasted a two-run homer in the first inning.
But Lester gave it all back and then some in the second.
Napoli tied it with his two-run blast, then things went haywire for Lester. Three singles and a pair of walks later, he was in a 4-2 hole. He came back out for the third inning but gave up a leadoff single to Nelson Cruz and back-to-back walks to Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba before Valentine decided to put an end to his night.
Napoli added a two-run homer in the ninth inning, capping 3-for-5, four-RBI day. Josh Hamilon went 3 for 5 with a three-run homer in the eight-run eighth inning for the Rangers and matched a career-high with five RBIs.
The Rangers hit five home runs as a team.
For the Sox, it’s the second loss in as many days after scoring a combined 31 runs in three straight wins at home.
Top of the eighth, Rangers 16, Red Sox 2: Texas takes a few parting shots at the expense of the Sox’s right-handed reliever Mark Melancon.
Josh Hamilton blasted a three-run homer deep into the right-field bleachers, then Adrian Beltre followed up with a solo shot this season (it’s the second time this season the Rangers have gone back to back). Then after Dale Muprhy walked, Nelson Cruz rocked one to center.
Melancon faced six batters in the eight, allowed all three homers (four hits altogether) plus a pair of walks. His ERA is now — wait for it — 49.50.
Adrian Gonzalez, who consoled Melancon in Detroit after giving up a walk-off home run in Detroit, came to the mound after Melancon walked Murphy to talk to the young pitcher who has given up runs in all of his appearances this season.
Top of the seventh, Rangers 8, Red Sox 2:After tossing a scoreless eight inning yesterday against the Rays, Matt Albers makes his third appearance of the season, gets two fly balls and a pop up, and sits the Rangers down in order.
Bottom of the sixth, Rangers 8, Red Sox 2: The Red Sox have eight hits, only three for extra bases and Ryan Sweeney has two of them. he doubled off the Wall with two outs but was left stranded.
Top of the sixth, Rangers 8, Red Sox 2: Michael Young gets in on the action. He shot a two-out home run into the Red Sox bullpen (his second of the season), piling onto the lead late.
Bottom of the fifth, Rangers 7, Red Sox 2: The Sox go down without a fight, and that’s a strong five innings for Colby Lewis.
Keep in mind this is the same Colby Lewis who went 1-2 last year against the Sox with allowing 14 earned runs in 15.1 innings pitched.
He’s allowed just two earned runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
Top of the fifth, Rangers 7, Red Sox 2: Mike Aviles was probably spared an error on a sharply hit ground ball by Craig Gentry, but if you go back to the Josh Hamilton fly ball in the second, he’s having a rough night in the field.
The play after Gentry’s grounder, Aviles was set to turn the double play on a comebacker to the mound, but after he got the throw from Atchinson, Gentry broke the play up with a hard slide that face-planted Aviles in the dirt
The play drew more than a few boos.
Aviles ended up finishing off the inning handling Elvis Andrus’s ground ball with no issues.
Bottom of the fourth, Rangers 7, Red Sox 2: Just when it looked like a rally …
Jason Repko ripped a single off the W.B. Mason sign in left with two outs, but Josh Hamilton made a nice play off the Wall and came up gunning. Repko was meat at second. Inning over.
Top of the fourth, Rangers 7, Red Sox 2: Atchinson does a little damage control. Michael Young fanned (tough night, 0-for-3), Nelson Cruz grounded out to third and the guy who started it all, Mike Napoli, took a big swing at a cutter and came up empty.
Young, who typically struggles at Fenway (.258 lifetime), and Torrealba are the only Rangers still hitless.
Bottom of the third, Rangers 7, Red Sox 2: Kevin Youkilis struck out swinging to end a second consecutive empty inning for the Sox. He’s up to 10 strikeouts this season.
Meanwhile, David Ortiz ripped a liner to center for a single (although Craig Gentry thought he gloved it on a sliding attempt), and he’s now gotten at least one hit in eight of the Sox 11 games this season.
Top of the third, Rangers 7, Red Sox 2: Maybe Bobby Valentine jinxed him?
Jon Lester got the hook after giving up four runs in the second inning and failing to retire any of the first three batters he faced in the third.
This matches the shortest start of Lester’s career, when he went just two innings two years ago against the Blue Jays. It was his second start of the season, and he gave up nine runs on eight hits in a 16-2 loss at Fenway.
He threw 80 pitches tonight, giving up seven runs on eight hits and four walks.
Scott Atchison came on in relief (coincidentally, he did the same thing two years ago, too).
Bottom of the second, Rangers 4, Red Sox 2:Mike Aviles’s bat went sailing after he flailed at a changeup for an inning-ending strikeout. The Sox went down in order.
Top of the second, Rangers 4, Red Sox 2: It’s a relatively small sample size, but Mike Napoli generally hits Jon Lester pretty well (.357 average in 14 ABs with a homer, a double, and three RBIs) and he keeps it up tonight.
He took an 0-and-2 cutter that was actually out of the strike zone and shipped it over the Wall for a game-tying two-run homer.
Things got dicey all around from there. Lester Walked Yorvit Torrealba then gave up a single to Craig Gentry, then walked Ian Kinsler to load the bases and paid for it when Elvis Andrus sent a swining bunt back at him that left Lester looking around trying to make a play that wasn’t there.
Torrealba scored, but it got worse when Cody Ross misplayed a Josh Hamilton fly ball to left with Mike Aviles was drifting out after it as well. The ball dropped between them, Gentry scored and the only thing that saved an error was Ross gunning down Ian Kinsler at third.
So much for Jon Lester pitching with a lead. Lester’s up to 57 pitches already, 43 this inning after a 12-pitch at-bat by Adrian Beltre that ended in an infield single. With Scott Atchison up in the bullpen, Bobby Valentine took a trip to the mound.
Bottom of the first, Red Sox 2, Rangers 0: Lester has room to breath now after Dustin Pedroia’s two-run blast. It’s Pedroia’s third homer of the season and his 13th career March/April homer.
Also, warm roars of “Youk” as Kevin Youkilis stepped to the plate, but he struck out starting at a fastball.
Top of the first, Red Sox 0, Rangers 0: Lester gave up singles to Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton, but got himself out of a first-and-third jam by getting Adrian Beltre to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
Pregame: Kevin Youkilis didn’t hesitate to point out the obvious M.O. for the Sox tonight: “Just got to go out there and get Jon Lester some run support this time around.” In two starts (15 innings, including an eight-inning complete game), Lester (0-2, 2.40 ERA, 10 Ks) has allowed just four runs, but the Sox offense has stood him up (just one run).
Sox manager Bobby Valentine said earlier in the afternoon, “Inning for inning, he’s pitched as well as anybody in baseball, and he doesn’t have anything to show for it.”
Valentine then joked that a lot of times a pitcher will cross his fingers hoping the offense doesn’t explode the night before he takes the mound. If that’s the case, with the Sox coming off a shutout loss to the Rays last night, Lester should be in good shape.