For the fifth time this season, Jon Lester failed to reach the sixth inning. For the 10th time in his past 11 starts, he gave up at least three runs, and for the 12th time this year, the Red Sox lost when Lester took the mound.
In four innings of work, Lester gave up six runs on seven hits, including a three-run home run to Kevin Youkilis in the fourth inning that propped the White Sox up in their 7-2 win Tuesday night. His win-loss record dropped to 5-7 and his ERA stretched to 4.65, in a season that’s shaping up as one of his worst since coming into the league.
Taking the mound for the first time since the All-Star break, when he had hoped to wash out a first-half he could only describe with curse words, he once again challenged hitters as he has all season and paid for it.
He found himself in a jam in the fourth, battling Kevin Youkilis, who ran the count full then blasted a pitch up in the zone high over the Monster for a three-run home run, his eighth of the year. He’s hit as many home runs 18 games with the White Sox as he had in 42 games with the Red Sox this season.
The bulk of the Red Sox’s production came from either Ellsbury (2 for 5), Crawford (3 for 4), or Gonzalez (2 for 4). With Ortiz out of the lineup, Daniel Nava hit third as the designated hitter and went 0 for 3, being hit by a pitch in the third inning. Kelly Schoppach provided a late charge with a two-run pinch-hit home run in the eight.
Making his first start since going on the disabled list June 17, White Sox righthander Philip Humber went six innings, giving up six hits but just the two runs he allowed in the first while striking out three.
Bottom of the ninth, White Sox 7, Red Sox 5: Aviles and Ciriaco are a combined 0 for 6, but there’s an honest threat of a two-our rally once Ellsbury (2 for 4) gets up.
Bottom of the eighth, White Sox 7, Red Sox 5: When Carl Crawford legged out his third hit of the game, racing down the line to beat Kevin Youkilis’s barehanded throw, initially it looked like the Red Sox would simply be able to scratch out a run because of it.
As it turned out, they were able to show some signs of life.
He moved to second on Adrian Gonzalez’s ground ball to first, the took third with an indifferent defense. Will Middlebrooks, hitless in his previous seven at-bats, sent one down the right field line to plate Crawford.
Then Kelly Schoppach, pinch hitting for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, blasted a 2-and-1 pitch over the Monster, his second career pinch-hit home run, cutting the lead to two.
Top of the eighth, White Sox 7, Red Sox 2:For the second time this season, Tazawa goes three innings in relief and with no one up in the Red Sox bullpen, it looks like he’ll get more work in the ninth.
Bottom of the sixth, White Sox 7, Red Sox 2: At 104 pitches (71 strikes), Philip Humber appears to have reached his limit. He’s had a great night for his first start off the disabled list, going six innings so far, giving up two runs on six hits with three strikeouts.
Brian Omogrosso is up in the bullpen for the White Sox.
Top of the sixth, White Sox 7, Red Sox 2:After going 8 innings with out giving up a run this season, Alejandro De Aza got to Junichi Tazawa, singling to right to score Alexei Ramirez, who led the inning off with a double.
Bottom of the fifth, White Sox 6, Red Sox 2: With two outs, Carl Crawford singled for the second time tonight, stole second to get into scoring position and looked like he’d come home on a hot line drive by Daniel Nava, but Dayan Viciedo made a great grab, lunging and rolling as he hauled it in.
Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury have four of the Red Sox five hits and both their runs and all three of their stolen bases. Crawford also has one of the RBIs.
The rest of the lineup is 1 for 14 with three strikeouts.
Top of the fifth, White Sox 6, Red Sox 2: Junichi Tazawa came in, making his second appearance since being called up before Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay.
He gave up a single to Rios, but kept the White Sox soundless otherwise.
Bottom of the fourth, White Sox 6, Red Sox 2: The Sox went down and order, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia started the inning by striking out swinging at a fastball away.
He’s in something of a talispin, 1 for 21 in the six games leading into tonight. He’s struck out 20 times this month, and his batting average, which was as high as .283 at one point this season. Is down to .231.
Top of the fourth, White Sox 6, Red Sox 2: Pitching coach Bob McClure went out to the mound to talk to Jon Lester, who had given up six hits at that point. He had also been catching a lot of the plate.
The one pitch he left up and away to Dayan Viciedo was hammered to the triangle in center, bouncing over the wall for a ground rule double.
He got himself into a jam he couldn’t wiggle out of, second and third with two outs and Kevin Youkilis up, running the count full. He threw a sinker that wound up being letter high, and Youkilis crushed it for his eighth homer of the season.
The Fenway response to the home run? “Youk!”
The response once Lester finally got out of the inning? “Boo.”
But they do sound the same.
Bottom of the third, White Sox 3, Red Sox 2: Wish there was a stopwatch around to clock the time it took Ellsbury to tag up from first on a deep, but relatively routine fly ball to center. De Aza’s throw couldn’t have been better.
It was a bold decision by Ellsbury to break for it to begin with. The play was close. Definitely a fun race to watch: Man vs. Ball.
Top of the third, White Sox 3, Red Sox 2: Some events in the world and in entertainment that have taken place since the last time Adam Dunn stole a base:
Obama elected. Osama killed. A couple tsunamis. An earthquake. Deep Water Horizon. Kanye West. Taylor Swift. Tiger Woods. Charlie Sheen. A lot of Twilight movies. A couple Hangover movies. 50 Shades of Grey. Affordable Healthcare. This guy.
You get the point.
He hadn’t swiped one since August 2008. Jarrad Saltalamacchia bobbled the transfer, so there wasn’t a throw. But give credit where it’s due, I guess.
Bottom of the second, White Sox 3, Red Sox 2: Philip Humber, he of the perfect game against Seattle in April, had been on the disabled list since June 17 with an elbow flexor injury, but with an injury-depleted rotation the White Sox needed him.
He looked sharp in his last rehab start before taking the mound today, according to the Chicago Sun Times. After giving up a pair of first-inning runs, he settled down and retired the Sox in order in the second.
Top of the second, White Sox 3, Red Sox 2: Crawford made a great play on Alexei Ramirez’s scorcher high off the wall to hold him to a single, but when Alejandro De Aza slapped one the other way down the left field line Crawford ended up having to chase the ball around in the corner.
Ramirez ended up scoring on De Aza’s double.
Jon Lester’s up to 50 pitches, and he’s now given up at least three runs in 10 of his past 11 starts.
Bottom of the second, White Sox 2, Red Sox 2: After his leadoff single, Jacoby Ellsbury stole his first base of the year. AJ Pierzynki, who bobbled the transfer, didn’t even bother with a throw.
It set Carl Crawford up to drive in his first run of the season.
Crawford’s first-inning hit last night, was a desperation slap at a pitch that was low. He was just trying to protect the plate and put it in play, but it’s funny what he said about how that at-bat helped his confidence (he had never started a season with a hit). His first hit tonight was a rope to right. He’s reached base three times in five plate appearances.
He then swiped one off Pierzynski, too. He came around on Adrian Gonzalez’s single up the middle.
With that, it’s easy to see how much these two mean at the top of the lineup.
(Also, if you’re wondering, that’s Sports Illustrated’s Peter King handling public adress duties tonight).
Top of the first, White Sox 2, Red Sox 0: Jon Lester isn’t going to back off hitters, even though he’s paid for it most of this season. He threw a four-seam fastball down the heart of the plate to Paul Konerko with runners on first and second and Konerko sent it down the right field line to drive in his 43d run of the season.
The next at-bat, Alex Rios, down 0-1, went after the second pitch he saw (a slow-motion changeup on the outside part of the plate and singled to center to drive in another.
Lester gave up three hits that inning, and coming in he had given up at least one hit in the first inning of each of his last eight starts. Make that nine now.
Pregame: The Sox will keep plugging along even with the latest case of star struck by injury. Daniel Nava will take David Ortiz’s place in the lineup.
It’s clearly too much to ask him to pick up where Ortiz, who had an 11-game hit streak, left off. But Nava, who had a seven game hit streak of his own from June 17 to 24, has hit safely in 20 of his past 24 games (20 hits, 10 walks, hit by three pitches).
Stick around. Comment.