Over his entire Major League career, Boston left-hander Jon Lester has owned the Baltimore Orioles. On Sunday, Baltimore owned Lester. The Orioles reached Boston’s struggling starter for five runs on nine hits over the first five innings and went on to post a 6-3 win over Boston, taking three of the four games in the current series between the two teams. Baltimore’s win helped the Orioles close the Red Sox lead in the A.L. East to one-and-a-half games.
Lester entered the game with a 14-1 lifetime record against Baltimore and was undefeated at Camden Yards with a 7-0 mark. His counterpart, Miguel Gonzalez, silenced Boston through six innings before giving up three runs in the bottom of the seventh and departing in position for the win. He hung on to improve to 5-2 with the victory. Baltimore relievers Brian Matuz, Tommy Hunter and closer Jim Johnson shut the Red Sox down the rest of the way to preserve the victory.
The Orioles jumped out to a three run lead in the bottom of the third, pushing Lester to 70 pitches. Nick Markakis opened with a single then scored on a RBI double by Adam Jones. Lester then gave up home run number 23 to A.L. home run leader Chris Davis to make it 3-0 Orioles.
Baltimore squeezed two more runs out of Lester in the bottom of the fifth when Markakis led off with a double and scored on Manny Machado’s RBI single. Machado moved to third on a throwing error by Lester and came home to make it 5-0 Birds on an RBI double by Chris Davis.
Boston stranded a pair of base runners in the 6th when Ellsbury hit his second single, and at that point only the second hit off Baltimore starter Miguel Gonzalez, followed by Iglesias reaching on an infield error. Daniel Nava followed with a loud out fly ball to Steve Pearce at the left field wall and Ortiz lined out to shut down the Boston threat.
The Red Sox finally broke through against Orioles starter Gonzalez in the top of the 7th. Mike Carp hit a double and had to be lifted with a leg injury going into second. Jarrod Saltalamachia followed with a single. Will Middlebrooks followed with his 9th home run of the season to right field to chase Gonzalez and bring the Bosox within 5-3. Brian Matuz relieved Gonzalez and got Drew to fly out to left and Ellsbury to ground out to quiet the Boston rally.
Baltimore got a run back in the bottom of the seventh to make it 6-3 when Markakis led off with a double against Bosox reliever Junichi Tazawa and scored on J.J. Hardy’s RBI single.
Lester hit the 100 pitch mark at the close of the fifth and finished with a pitching line of IP 5 R 5 ER 5 H 9 BB 0 K 8 PC 100. In taking the loss, Lester dropped to 6-4 and the game marked his 6th straight start without a victory.
Sunday also marked the first time this season (70 games) that Dustin Pedroia did not start at second base for the Red Sox on what was termed a scheduled day off. Iglesias got his first Major League start at second to replace him. Iglesias scratched out an infield single in the 8th inning to extend his hitting streak to 17 games.
Boston dropped to 42-29 on the season. Sunday’s loss against the Orioles dropped the Red Sox to 18-13 against A.L. East opponents and moved Boston to 21-15 on the road.
Carp’s injury compounds an already thin situation at first base. Regular starter Mike Napoli missed the final two games of the Baltimore series, having been sent back to Boston ahead of the team with illness symptoms that include light-headedness and dizzy spells. If Nava is force to play first, it leaves the Red Sox thin in the outfield.
The Red Sox will look forward to resting their bullpen with a Monday day off before hosting the Tampa Bay Rays for a day-night double header Tuesday. Clay Buchholz has been scratched from his scheduled start due to continued neck issues. Felix Doubront and either Ruby DeLaRosa or Alfredo Aceves get the call to pitch the double header against the Rays. Buchholz is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday and if does not show physical improvement may be headed retroactively to the DL.
Following the Tampa series, Boston heads to the Motor City four a four-game road set against the A.L. Central front-running Tigers before closing out the challenging month of June with a two game series against Colorado on June 25/26 and a four game home-stand against A.L. East rival Toronto June 27 through June 31.
Down the road Boston will face Interleague play and a total of 13 games against West Coast teams to begin the month of July prior to Major League’s Baseball’s All-Star break which runs July 15 through the 18th. Following the mid-season respite, Boston faces a gauntlet of 10 straight games against division rivals to include the Yankees, Tampa Bay and Baltimore.
There are a ton of games left in the regular season but it is interesting to note that as the A.L. East remains a tight race with four of its five teams in striking distance of first place, Boston closes its regular season against Baltimore in a three-game set at Camden Yards September 27-29.
- Lackey & luck lead Boston to 5-4 win; Red Sox look for series split on Sunday (baseballtrashtalkin.org)
- Blog Post: MLB Saturday Boston Red Sox vs Baltimore Orioles (pregame.com)