Ugh. It's just not getting any better for Jon Lester in 2013. Lester went 5+ innings, giving up five runs on nine hits in the loss to the Seattle Mariners. His ERA stands at a bloated 4.60. While many of the Red Sox starters are getting better, the former ace is getting worse. Yes, he was squeezed a bit by home plate umpire Ed Hickox, but he just couldn't get the job done when it mattered most. Lester, who at one time was known for putting away batters by way of the "K", allowed eight batters to reach after he had two strikes on them. With the trade deadline looming, Boston will need to grab that key reliever to bridge the gap between starter and closer, as Lester needs to go deeper into games to avoid taxing the bullpen. Here are the four at bats that changed Monday night's game:
1) Can't put them away Bottom of the fourth inning, and Jon Lester runs into a giant mess. After getting Kendrys Morales to 0-2, Lester throws him a weak curveball that Morales takes to left field for a single. On the first pitch he sees, Kyle Seager hits a ball that is just out of Dustin Pedroia's reach and men are at the corners with no outs. Justin Smoak takes a 1-2 pitch down the left field line for a RBI double. On a full count to Mike Zunino, Lester can't put him away, and he walks the bases loaded. To make matter worse, Lester than walks the number nine hitter, Michael Saunders, to score another run. Lester had four men with two strikes in the innings, but he failed to get any of them out and recorded 39 pitches in the inning. The walk with the bases loaded was the Red Sox 9th, which is tied for the MLB lead. 2-0 Mariners
2) Tie that Score, quickly Top of the fifth inning, and the Red Sox bats wake up. Jose Iglesias is harmlessly hit by a pitch, Brock Holt singles to right field, and then Daniel Nava crushes a ball into center to score a run. Jonny Gomes then strikes out on a ball in the dirt, but it gets by the catcher Zunino, and Holt jogs home for a free run. 2-2 tie.
3) Break the tie, even quicker. Bottom of the fifth inning, and again Lester can't put a batter away with two strikes. The ageless Raul Ibanez, first man up in the inning, takes an 0-2 pitch over the wall in right to put the Mariners up 3-2.
4) Nail in the Coffin Bottom of the sixth inning, and Lester leaves after giving up two singles. Alex Wilson comes in and gives up a long double over the head of Nava in center field. If Jacoby Ellsbury is playing, that would most likely be a catch. Nava picks it up and misses the cutoff man, allowing the second run to score. 5-2 Mariners.
It just got worse as the game went on, and hit after hit landed over the outfielder's heads for an extra base hit. Tonight, like last night, was not pretty. It's still safe to say that the collapse from Saturday night is still in the heads of the Red Sox. Let's hope Tuesday, when rookie Allen Webster takes on Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma at 10:10pm EST, is a lot better.