On a day when California Chrome failed to win horse racing’s first Triple Crown since 1978, the Boston Red Sox also rode their most reliable horse to an unsatisfactory finish.
Jon Lester was tasked with playing the role of stopper Saturday with Boston stuck in the middle of another losing streak. The Red Sox ace faltered, losing to Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers for the second time this season.
Lester was a hard-luck loser the last time the Tigers dealt him a defeat May 16 at Fenway Park. The Red Sox didn’t produce any offense in a game disrupted by a rain delay, and Lester suffered his fifth loss of the season following five innings of one-run ball. The box score this time around was much uglier for Lester, whose record dropped to 6-7 with Boston’s 8-6 loss to Detroit on Saturday.
Lester couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning Saturday. He allowed five earned runs on a season-high 12 hits over 4 1/3 innings. The left-hander didn’t record a single strikeout for the first time since Opening Day 2011, when he surrendered five earned runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings against the Texas Rangers.
“I didn’t feel good from the first toss in the bullpen to the last pitch I threw in the game. Against that offense, that means a long night,” Lester told reporters in Detroit after Saturday’s loss. “I flat-out wasted this game and the performance by our offense.”
The Tigers mauled Lester early and often, scoring at least one run in each of the first four innings. Detroit jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning when the middle of the order — Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter — produced two doubles and a single with two outs.
Lester showed frustration on the mound in the second inning after yielding an RBI single to Rajai Davis. Austin Jackson and Bryan Holaday reached to begin the inning, and Lester got exactly the ground ball he was looking for with Davis at the plate and one out. The only problem was that it found a hole on the left side. As you’d imagine, Lester wasn’t too pleased.
Things only got more frustrating for Lester in the third inning when Nick Castellanos belted his fifth home run of the season. Rookie shortstop Eugenio Suarez, playing in just his second major league game, added a solo blast in the fourth inning. It was Suarez’s first big league hit.
Red Sox manager John Farrell finally saw enough after Lester gave up back-to-back singles to Castellanos and Jackson with one out in the fifth inning. Craig Breslow entered and induced a double play, although Boston’s usually reliable bullpen was ineffective for much of the night.
Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Miller each were charged with a run in the loss, and the bullpen’s inability to keep the Tigers’ offense at bay made it difficult for the Red Sox to gain any ground. The Sox ultimately put the tying run on base in the ninth inning, but Joe Nathan closed the door by getting Stephen Drew to fly out to center field.
The Red Sox can take solace in their struggling offense’s solid effort. The Sox racked up 15 hits, with each member of the starting lineup contributing at least one knock. Boston’s fate was sealed the second Lester took the mound without his best stuff, though, and the Red Sox now turn to John Lackey to snap their five-game losing streak in Sunday’s series finale.
The Red Sox needed Lester to get them back on track. Instead, they were in for a bumpy ride right out of the gate.