Rays 4, Red Sox 3
For the last couple of weeks, the Sox have needed to take advantage of their few starts with competent starting pitchers on the mound. Unfortunately, they can't exactly do that when the starter in question doesn't live up to expectations.
Such was at least partially the case for Jon Lester Saturday afternoon. Where the Sox went looking for a lockdown outing to help them overcome Jeff Niemann, who has done nothing but record outs against the Red Sox this year. Instead, they got something less. Setting the tone for the game early, Jon Lester gave up one of his four walks to leadoff batter Desmond Jennings. While Lester would sit the next two batters down, he couldn't manage the same against Ben Zobrist, and for the second straight night the Sox found themselves in a 2-0 hole on a two-run shot.
Lester would allow another run to come in on a third-inning on a wild pitch, but the Sox were able to cut the lead to just one run as Mike Aviles brought Carl Crawford home on a double off the wall, and then scored on a Jacoby Ellsbury sacrifice fly.
After a scoreless fourth, an inconspicuous run came across in the fifth when Lester gave up a pair of two-out hits. That would turn out to be the game winner. While the Sox actually managed to chase Jeff Niemann after just five short innings, Matt Moore entered the game and managed to dodge bullets aside from a lone run in the seventh. Despite the Rays allowing eleven total baserunners, an 0-for-8 figure with runners in scoring position left the Red Sox' offense unable to provide the needed offense to back up a shaky Jon Lester.
Three For The Road
The Sox had some issues on the basepaths Saturday. First up was Carl Crawford, who almost found himself tagged out at home when he scored one of the few Boston runs of the night. For whatever reason, Crawford didn't go into a slide, and instead stumbled into home while trying to dodge the tag.
More costly, however, was Jacoby Ellsbury's decision to try and take third with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. Instead of giving Dustin Pedroia a chance to single him home, Ellsbury found himself cut down at the hot corner. That could possibly have been the difference.
Lester's Control Difficulties
The typically in-control Jon Lester has had some difficulties keeping the ball in the zone in recent days. While he managed to hold down the fort as the game went on, Lester's four walks today make 11 in just 23 innings of work in September. After August's 16 walks in 32 innings, it's becoming something of a long-term problem.
Faith in Daniel Bard
If there's good news to be found in the game, it's that Daneil Bard pulled off a 1-2-3 outing one night after his bounce-back hold Friday night. At least for now, Bard is looking back to normal.
Red Sox MVP -- Nobody!
Because there won't be any in losses until they start winning consistently.
Up Next -- Sunday, 1:35 p.m. | Tim Wakefield (7-6, 5.13 ERA) vs. David Price (12-12, 3.34)
While the Sox managed to take the Beckett game, they had to be depending on Lester to provide the series split. Now they've got just Tim Wakefield to depend on. Against David Price. With an offense that hasn't exactly been on fire of late.
Stranger things have happened?