Red Sox Live Blog: Jon Lester Struggles as White Sox Take Series Opener 7-3


Red Sox Live Blog: Jon Lester Struggles as White Sox Take Series Opener 7-3

Postgame, White Sox 7-3: We will have more on Jon Lester’s start on the site, but wanted to leave you with one tidbit from Terry Francona on why he stayed with Lester as long as he did.

Lester threw 127 pitches. He was at 122 with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, and the manager chose to stay with him.

Francona said that the plan before the inning was that even if Lester struggled, he would try to get him through Alexei Ramirez or until a run scored. Ramirez entered the game 1-for-10 against Lester and has struggled against lefties all year, but ended up being the man that ended Lester’s night.

Ramirez did just enough on a cutter that Lester left a little up, and the White Sox shortstop broke the 3-3 tie with a bloop double to right. It wasn’t a hard hit, but the one that mattered most.

“If that ball goes foul, [Lester] might’ve had a win,” Francona said, citing the precarious nature of the situation.

Because of a day off Thursday and another on Monday, Lester will not pitch again until next Tuesday in New York. Alfredo Aceves goes tomorrow, Tim Wakefield on Wednesday, Clay Buchholz on Friday and Josh Beckett on Saturday. That would give Sunday’s start to John Lackey, who was seen leaving the clubhouse tonight with a bag strapped over his shoulder. He is starting for Pawtucket on Tuesday night.

We will not be blogging that game. We will be at Fenway once again for the Aceves start. First pitch is 7:10 p.m. Thanks for tagging along tonight.

Final, White Sox 7-3: And just like that, the Red Sox have themselves a little losing streak.

They have also dropped five straight at home to Chicago and 11 of the last 13 between the two teams.

The story of this one is Jon Lester’s struggles. Off to hear from him and the rest of the gang. Back up soon.

Mid 9th, White Sox 7-3: Michael Bowden has two scoreless innings under his belt.

It will be Drew Sutton, J.D. Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the ninth. We may get Mike Cameron hitting for Drew.

End 8th, White Sox 7-3: The Red Sox got two on with two outs and the crowd got going a bit. Carl Crawford’s inability to do anything against lefties killed that.

Crawford struck out. He is now 7-for-65 (.108) with 15 Ks against left-handers. Not good.

10:11 p.m.: Jesse Crain got the first two outs of the eighth before giving up a single to Kevin Youkilis. He’ll remember that second out for some time.

Adrian Gonzalez smoked a line drive back up the middle that caught Crain square in his right side.

The ball trickled toward third and Crain recovered to get the slow-footed Gonzalez by a hair. Very good play, considering he will have a welt the size of Cambridge by tomorrow morning.

Matt Thornton will face David Ortiz here with two outs.

Mid 8th, White Sox 7-3: If something magical happens in these final two at-bats for the Red Sox, a turning point will be the top of the eighth.

Michael Bowden got into all sorts of trouble with two singles and a walk with one out. He battled back to strike out Carlos Quentin, and Adrian Gonzalez made a nice diving stop of a Paul Konerko grounder, tossing to Bowden covering. Inning over.

Jesse Crain, a pretty hard thrower, is on for the White Sox in the eighth.

End 7th, White Sox 7-3: If this score holds up, the White Sox will have won 11 of their last 13 games against the Red Sox and five straight at Fenway Park.

I said that would be Jake Peavy’s last inning. Not so sure. At 112 pitches, and cruising, he may get a chance for another out or so. Matt Thornton was up and warming in the bullpen, so he would be the choice if a move is made.

Michael Bowden is making his 2011 debut with the Red Sox. He pitched very well out of the pen in Pawtucket until his last three outings, in which he was knocked around a bit.

Mid 7th, White Sox 7-3: These outs by Dan Wheeler are not without significance. Not only does he need to keep things close, but there will be a time this year when he is getting even more important outs, as in those with a lead.

Wheeler works a quick seventh and Jake Peavy heads back out there for what will be his last inning.

Michael Bowden is warming for Boston.

End 6th, White Sox 7-3: Singles by Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz gave the Red Sox plenty of speed on the bases.

But the two burners stay right where they are. Carl Crawford flew to right and Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out.

Dan Wheeler stays in the game for the Red Sox.

Mid 6th, White Sox 7-3: Carlos Quentin greets Dan Wheeler with a two-run single to give Jake Peavy plenty of room with which to work.

Jon Lester’s ERA now sits at 3.94. It was at 2.33 after his first start this month.

9:11 p.m.: At 9:11, Terry Francona finally calls 9-1-1. Help arrives for Jon Lester in the form of Dan Wheeler.

Lester was kept in there to face Alexei Ramirez despite having a pitch count of 122 with two outs in the fifth and the bases loaded.

On his 127th pitch, the most Lester has thrown since his 2008 no-hitter, he gives up a bloop double down the right-field line that scores two.

Chicago has a 5-3 lead and two men in scoring position for Carlos Quentin.

End 5th, 3-3: Jake Peavy needs only 10 pitches to get through the fifth. Both pitchers have somewhat settled in here in the middle innings, although Lester has not been at his sharpest.

Lester is at 96 pitches and there is a whole lot of stretching going on in the bullpen right now.

And, another gal has said yes to another guy on the big screen. Based on the T-shirts, Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury will be having a fall wedding, likely in Vermont.

Mid 5th, 3-3: Jon Lester has hit Carlos Quentin with a pitch twice, neither on purpose, of course. But he got heckled a bit from the White Sox dubout after the second one.

A few people telling me that there was no intent so I’m making it up, but Lester’s body language is horrendous and he has complained about the HBP calls, and a few ball calls, more than once. Think the Chicagoans are letting him know how they feel about it.

Anyway, Lester survives the hit batter. Give credit to Jacoby Ellsbury for tracking one down in front of the monster for the second out.

End 4th, 3-3: A David Ortiz single is all that happened in the fourth. As the side was retired, Ortiz had “words” with Jake Peavy and A.J. Pierzynski.

If you didn’t know anything about Ortiz, you might think he had an issue with something. Just messin’ around this time.

Mid 4th, 3-3: Jon Lester dug himself a hole with back-to-back walks to begin the fourth. He got plenty of help to escape unharmed.

First, Brent Morel popped up a bunt attempt to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the first out.

Then as Lester blew a third strike by Juan Pierre, Saltalamacchia threw out Brent Lillibridge attempting to steal third. Ozzie Guillen stormed from the Chicago dugout to argue the out call, and he may have had a beef. Looked like the hand was in there well in advance of the tag. Waiting on a replay here in the press box.

Well, now I’ve seen it. Closer than I thought. Nice throw and tag on the Sox side of things. RED Sox, that is.

End 3rd, 3-3: Remember when Dustin Pedroia limped off the field in Cleveland and we all started wondering if he would ever return?

Well, he just needed one day, and since that return he has seven RBIs in just over five games.

Pedroia drove in Jarrod Saltalamacchia (hit by pitch) and Jacoby Ellsbury (double) with a single up the middle. This fine pitching matchup is tilted heavily in favor of the bats right now.

Mid 3rd, White Sox 3-1: Terry Francona, in discussing the fact that the warmer weather should yield better results for his hitters, stressed that it will do the same for others.

Paul Konerko was one of the names he threw out. Konerko is now 2-for-2 with a solo homer after rocketing one off the Triple-A sign over the Monster seats.

Another rocky start for Lester. His six scoreless innings the last time out are the exception, rather than the rule, if you look at his last month or so.

End 2nd, White Sox 2-1: Jake Peavy has a few words with home plate umpire Marty Foster after a 1-2-3 inning. It was a civil conversation, likely Peavy just telling him how easy that frame was.

Peavy has been very good since returning, his complete-game shutout of Cleveland two starts ago being the big one. If he can look like this and stay healthy, I wouldn’t count this team out in the AL Central. Cleveland will have some tougher times, and Chicago is better than this. A good Peavy could have a major impact.

Mid 2nd, White Sox 2-1: We have another Drew Sutton sighting and the first few “Dreeewwww” chants, only sometimes reserved for a certain right fielder.

Sutton made a nice stop up the middle and flipped to Dustin Pedroia at second to begin a 6-4-3 double play with the speedy Juan Pierre running. Not easy to do.

It helps Jon Lester work around a walk to No. 9 hitter Brent Morel. Safe to say Lester was not happy about that.

End 1st, White Sox 2-1: Adrian Gonzalez had eight homers in 43 at-bats before going homerless for 60. Then, he deposited one into the Chicago bullpen in the bottom of the first, his 10th of the year.

Could another HR streak be coming for a guy who is notorious for them?

By the way, that was his first time facing former teammate Jake Peavy.

Mid 1st, White Sox 2-0: The White Sox caused Boston all sorts of problems last season, winning six of the seven meetings and sweeping all three here in Fenway.

You might remember that series as one of those that seemed to stick a bit of a nail in the coffin for the Red Sox. It came at the beginning of September and dropped Boston 7 1/2 games out of a playoff spot.

Chicago is at it again, stringing three singles behind a hit batter to get to Jon Lester for two runs in the first.

7:19 p.m.: As Jon Lester struggles in the top of the first (bases loaded, one out), I wanted to pass along a few Ozzie Guillen quotes, his response to a flap he contributed to with a Twitter tirade yesterday:

“It’s upsetting because most of my quotes, they don’t start as quotes. [They start as] conversation. Take one thing here, one thing there and then boom.

“That happened twice already, they picked a little bit. I was talking about Mike Scioscia…they pick two things I say. I was talking about Mike for two hours.

“Yesterday, they pick one thing here and there, makes me look crazy. Well, I’m not crazy person, I’m a very outspoken person.

“It upset me? Yes, because it put me in the spotlight because of something I said about the fans. When we’re playing bad [I wouldn’t say anything bad about the fans]…that’s not a good combination.

“It makes me look stupid or ignorant or crazy. It’s over with, it’s a new day, I sleep well.”

And with that, the latest Guillen diatribe was done. Guy is a great listen.

7:10 p.m.: Jon Lester’s first pitch is a strike, and we are playing some ball.

6:57 p.m.: A few minutes from first pitch and they are honoring Red Sox and Fenway Park employees who have served in the military. A great moment for them, but one that also serves to underline an issue I have with your hometown team.

Whenever there are ceremonies like this, and even often during the national anthem, the opposing team lines up and applauds, salutes, etc. in front of the visiting dugout. The Red Sox rarely do. Right now, three guys are sitting on the front benches of the dugout and not paying attention one bit.

Would be nice if they did their part in these pregame ceremonies a bit more than they do. Trust me, a lot of people up here in the press box have taken note of this all year.

6:02 p.m.: The windows are open in the press box and they will remain that way all night, in all likelihood. That has happened once, maybe twice, all year because of the crap weather.

The Red Sox hitters are among those happy about the warmer temps and the relatively clear conditions.

“Yesterday, in Detroit, it was hot, humid, guys were happy,” Terry Francona said. “Baseball weather. It’s a lot easier to play when it’s warm and humid, you’ve got a sweat going. Ball carries. I guess I’m excited when we hit, not so much when Konerko and Dunn are up there…Nice to be in baseball weather though.”

It should be pretty nice all week and even better over the weekend. We will see if it has a positive impact on an already hot lineup.

5:38 p.m.: Just heard from the always entertaining Ozzie Guillen. He talked at length about his latest episode, on which we will have more later. Good stuff.

Following is the White Sox lineup, sans Adam Dunn, who is struggling at .181.

Juan Pierre, LF
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Carlos Quentin, DH
Paul Konerko, 1B
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Alex Rios, CF
Brent Lillibridge, RF
Gordon Beckham, 2B
Brent Morel, 3B

Those to watch would be Pierre, who is 2-for-2 with three steals against Jon Lester, and Konerko, who is 4-for-12 with a home run, four RBIs and three walks vs. the lefty.

4:38 p.m.: The word on Jed Lowrie is that he is OK, just has a sore shoulder from that collision with Carl Crawford in the first game Sunday.

If you cannot recall, there was a pop to shallow left-center field that saw Lowrie converge with Crawford and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

Cannot blame Ellsbury one bit for backing off, given his history with collisions. But Lowrie kept going until he heard someone call him off, and he may have never heard anything. The shortstop was raising his glove to make the catch when Crawford ran into him from behind.

Lowrie moved his left arm as if it was a bit sore. After sitting for the nightcap and then sleeping on it, he was a tad stiff. It is not considered serious.

“He’ll play tomorrow,” Terry Francona said.

Also occuring tomorrow will be the activation of Bobby Jenks from the disabled list. He threw two one-inning rehab outings for Pawtucket, showed pretty good velocity, and had no physical setbacks in his return from a biceps injury.

“It’s a good thing he went,” Francona said. “Shook off a little rust…now he’ll come back and help us out.”

A healthy Jenks means Francona does not lean too heavily on Daniel Bard. A fresh Bard means that this bullpen can be all that it can be, like the U.S. Army.

One issue with Jenks on his second appearance for Pawtucket was that he did not do a good job of holding a runner. Francona has mentioned that numerous times as an integral part of Jenks’ new role. He will be coming into the middle of innings more often than he did as the closer for Chicago, and will need to deal with more inherited runners. It was stressed this spring, but Jenks has had an issue or two keeping those guys close. Watch for that upon his return.

Back in a bit with more.

Oh, the Red Sox will be wearing commemorative Memorial Day hats tonight. They are red with a white facing and then a “B” that has stars and stripes in it.

Francona, after calling the holiday “Labor Day” and then being questioned about it, said this: “We’re wearing silly hats, I know it’s something.”

3:16 p.m.: The lineup features one small surprise. Jed Lowrie is out for the second straight game. We will see if there is anything to that, or just Terry Francona wanting to get him a full day off. Lowrie did play in the doubleheader opener Sunday.

Here is the order:

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
Carl Crawford, LF
Drew Sutton, SS
J.D. Drew, RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

3:05 p.m.: Greetings from Fenway Park, where a handful of White Sox players are throwing the old Aerobie around the outfield. They kind of stink at it, relative to past teams that have come in here flinging the thing.

Saw Jarrod Saltalamacchia weaving through traffic with music blaring on his way in. Salty knows he will be behind the plate for this one. He’s been paired with Jon Lester for weeks now, and Jason Varitek caught last night.

No lineups out quite yet, so that is speculation, but it’s a solid bet. However, if and when we see Varitek, perhaps just between innings warming up Lester, he will be sporting camouflaged equipment in honor of the troops, his personal tribute on this Memorial Day. The gear will be auctioned off to benefit the Run to Home Base program.

Lineups over in just a few.

9:20 a.m.: Following a 5-2 road trip, the Red Sox return home Monday to take on the Chicago White Sox in the opener of a six-game stretch at Fenway Park.

Jon Lester, who has won seven consecutive decisions, is on the mound opposite White Sox righty Jake Peavy. Lester tossed six scoreless innings in a 14-2 rout in Cleveland his last time out.

The Boston lefty is 2-2 with a 4.99 ERA in five career starts versus the White Sox, who dropped their last three games in Toronto over the weekend. Following the series, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen made headlines by taking exception to a quote of his that was printed over the weekend.

Peavy has been solid since returning from a litany of physical ailments. In three starts, he has struck out 14 and walked just one. After tossing a complete-game shutout against the Indians on May 18, his next start was cut short due to rain.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.

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