Going into last night’s game against the Texas Rangers, I was all ready to discuss one of two themes: either Red Sox starter Jon Lester’s finally picking up his first win of the season once he returned to the friendly confines of Fenway Park; or, how Jon Lester has terrible luck, and wasn’t able to pick up a well-deserved win for his third straight start, despite all his valiant effort.
I didn’t expect to have to write about what I’m writing about: Lester got tagged with the loss last night, because he was awful. He gave up seven earned runs (no blaming his defense on this one) before getting an out in the third inning, walking four and giving up a two-run home run to Mike Napoli. Why? What happened, Jon Lester, shining beacon (relatively speaking, anyway) of a bruised, battered and otherwise suspect pitching staff?
“It was one of those nights where I flat-out stunk,’’ Lester told the Boston Globe. “When I did make the adjustment and tried to get back into the zone, it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t a good night for me.’’
I’ll say. In fact, last night marked Lester’s shortest career start. He just wasn’t getting it done. We all have rough days at the office, but that was kind of ridiculous.
The bullpen wasn’t much better. Scott Atchison and Matt Albers held Texas to only one additional run through the next five innings, care of a Michael Young solo shot off Atchison. But then, Mark Melancon came into the game to begin the eighth inning; and let’s just say, he didn’t get to stick around to end the eighth inning, also. The skies rained baseballs over Melancon’s outing, as he allowed three home runs – from Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, and Nelson Cruz – before recording a single out. Melancon gave up six runs and didn’t notch an out, leaving to a chorus of boos when he yielded to Justin Thomas (who got tagged with two follow-up runs), and Vicente Padilla (who, cherry on top, got hit with two runs of his own). Hamilton put up video-game numbers last night, going 3 for 5 with five RBI. Napoli also went 3 for 5 with four RBI.
Meanwhile, Melancon’s ERA is now 49.50. And yes, it’s early, and yes, small sample size, but really? What’s up, Mark Melancon? This kind of ERA from a pitcher who was, last year, the promising closer for the Houston Astros? And it’s not like he’s blind to the rigors of pitching in the AL East – he came up through the Yankees system (I remember when the Yankees fan base didn’t want to trade him – goes to show us all why we shouldn’t fall in love with prospects).
Oh, right, I almost forgot – for the Rangers, the pitching staff put together a textbook nine innings. Starter Colby Lewis threw seven innings of two-run ball (Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run home run in the first inning), and Koji Uehara and Mark Lowe took over for the next two frames. Uehara gave up a solo bomb to Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth inning, but at that point, a comeback would have been like trying to melt an iceberg with a book of matches.
Here’s a link to the box, courtesy of the Red Sox.
Tonight, Josh Beckett takes on Derek Holland for a 7:10 start. I’ll be there, care of the Sox Pak of tickets I got as a holiday present in December. Win this one for me, boys!