Lester makes no excuses after poor outing

April, 18, 2012
4/18/12
12:50
AM ET
BOSTON -- Jon Lester didn’t mince words.

“It was one of those nights I flat-out stunk,” Lester said in analyzing his ugly, abbreviated outing in the Red Sox’s nightmarish 18-3 loss to the defending American League champion Texas Rangers on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

Lester's pitching line certainly didn’t offer any contradiction to his assessment.

[+] EnlargeJon Lester
Mark L. Baer/US PresswireAfter a rough, 49-pitch second inning, Jon Lester was finished three batters into the third.
Lester lasted only two-plus innings. He was charged with seven earned runs on eight hits and four walks. The left-hander struggled through a 49-pitch, four-run second that negated a two-run lead he had been provided on Dustin Pedroia’s homer in the first inning off Texas starter Colby Lewis.

And Lester was unable to turn things around in the third, lifted after surrendering a single and walking two, leaving the bases filled for Scott Atchison, who was unable to strand any of the baserunners.

The Sox were never able to climb out of that 7-2 hole, and the game turned into an embarrassment when Mark Melancon, Justin Thomas and Vicente Padilla combined to cough up 10 runs over the final two innings as Texas improved to 9-2.

Boston, meanwhile, has dropped two in a row on the heels of a three-game winning streak that opened the homestand. Lester’s performance mirrored the dip in the team’s recent fortunes.

In his first two starts, Lester pitched well (2.40 ERA), but the Sox managed to score only one run in his 15 innings. On Tuesday night, Lester couldn’t put anyone away. The signature at-bat along those lines was a 12-pitch battle with ex-Soxer Adrian Beltre, a battle the Rangers’ third baseman won on a single up the middle.

“They have good hitters,” said Lester, whose ERA ballooned to 5.82. “They fouled off some good pitches, hit some bad pitches, hit some good pitches. When I made adjustments down with the ball they hit some on the ground up the middle, found some holes. That being said, when I didn’t make pitches, they hit the ball hard.”

One at-bat that particularly bothered Lester was the one in which Mike Napoli clubbed a towering two-run homer over the Green Monster in left-center on an 0-and-2 pitch in the second inning.

“I got two quick strikes on him and I tried to go in with a cutter,” Lester said. “Obviously he was sitting on a pitch in there and I gave it to him and he didn’t miss it. That’s what good hitters do. As a pitcher you have to try to figure out what the hitter is trying to do to you and the hitter is trying to figure out what you’re trying to do to him.”

The figures didn’t add up for Lester in the second inning as the Rangers found some holes, hit some balls hard, took their walks, dribbled an RBI single down the third-base line and in general just kept inflating his pitch count to the point where manager Bobby Valentine was considering replacing him to start the third inning.

Lester stuck around, for three more batters, but after 80 mostly ineffective pitches he was finally taken out.

“It was one of those deals where I wasn’t very good,” said Lester. “It wasn’t a good night for me. I stunk.”
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