Three things we learned in the Red Sox’ 6-3 loss to the Rangers Tuesday night at Fenway Park:
Lester dominates early, struggles late
It appeared Jon Lester was well on his way to one of his best outings of the season, but the left-hander struggled in the fifth and sixth innings and when he came out he wasn’t even credited with a quality start.
“You have to keep looking at the positives,” Lester said. “Three or four pitches out of 111 that is a positive. An offense like that beats you when you make those types of mistakes. It is what it is. It was their night.”
Lester cruised through the first four innings facing the minimum number of batters after allowing a base hit to Nelson Cruz before enduing an inning-ending double play. The wheels began to fall off in the sixth when he allowed two runs on three hits. In the seventh he allowed two more runs, where two walks in the inning came back to hurt.
He finished going 6 2/3 innings allowing four runs on six hits, while striking out four.
“Yeah, a couple of pitches out of 111,” said Lester of just a few pitches getting away from him. “The past three starts I’ve felt like I’ve thrown the ball better than I have all year and I am 0-2.”
Lester was visibly upset with home plate umpire Lance Barrett’s strike zone and voiced his displeasure on a few occasions.
“The walks were a little out of character,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “He walked a couple of guys, but he threw the ball really well.”
Lester has not won a game since June 27, a span of seven starts and the team has one win in those starts.
Middlebrooks sparks Sox
Will Middlebrooks single-handedly put the Red Sox back in the game.
Pinch-hitting with his team trailing 4-0 in the seventh inning, the rookie belted a first-pitch, three-run home run into the first row of the Monster Seats, cutting the deficit to 4-3.
The blast needed to be reviewed due to a fan catching the ball close to reaching over into the field of play, but Middlebrooks knew all the way it would stand.
“There is an area up there before the people, so I was about 99 percent sure,” Middlebrooks said.
Middlebrooks pinch-hit for Nick Punto who got the start at third base. It was just an off-day for the third baseman as Valentine noted the day game on Wednesday followed by four straight games before a day off next Monday.
The 23-year-old has now hit safely in 16 of his last 23 games and ranks third among AL rookies with 14 home runs.
Inconsistencies becoming consistent
The Red Sox just can’t seem to get anything going for a sustained amount of time of late and the trend continued Tuesday night.
Lately, things seem like they could be turning things around, but then the team suffers difficult losses and have to start over.
Back on July 19, Cody Ross hit a walk-off home run, which energized both the team and the fan base, but then the team went out and got swept at home by the Blue Jays.
A week later, the team took two of three from the Yankees, and two of three from the Tigers, but once again it didn’t last long as the team lost three of four to the lowly Twins.
Fast forward to Tuesday night. Coming off of two wins and two strong pitching performances from Franklin Moralez and Aaron Cook, Jon Lester couldn’t keep the trend going and the team suffered yet another loss, and another set back. For the Red Sox to have any chance of contending for a Wild Card spot down the stretch, this trend needs to come to an end.