Red Sox Live Blog: Jon Lester Pitches Gem, Sox Bats Explode As Boston Finishes Sweep With 14-1 Win in Toronto


Red Sox Live Blog: Jon Lester Pitches Gem, Sox Bats Explode As Boston Finishes Sweep With 14-1 Win in Toronto

Final, Red Sox 14-1: Jon Lester's day is done: his final numbers — 102 pitches (68 strikes), eight strikeouts, one hit, one walk, one run.

Michael Bowden is in to finish things off.

He gets ahead of Escobar 0-2 and then gets him to fly harmlessly to right.

Patterson grounds to first for the second out, and McCoy pops to Pedroia for the final out — game over, series over. The Sox bats battered 17 hits Sunday afternoon, including 10 for extra bases. With this dominant weekend in Toronto, the Sox have won nine straight.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 14-1: Jon Rauch comes in for Toronto — the closer hasn't had a chance to work this weekend.

Ellsbury leads off the inning by working the count full and then slapping a single to right.

Pedroia comes up next, and he grounds to short — though Ellsbury advances.

With the runner in scoring position, Cameron flies out to left. With two outs, Youkilis comes up swinging. He takes the first pitch way deep — long over the left field wall for a two-run bomb — 14-1 Red Sox.

Ortiz loops one down the left field line, but Patterson sprints over to make a nice backhand grab and — mercifully — end the inning.

End 8th, Red Sox 12-1: Lester comes back out for the eighth, and gets into a little trouble — allowing a leadoff walk to Encarnacion after getting ahead 0-2.

He recovers, however, getting Hill to ground to third, Davis to strike out swinging and Nix to foul out to first to end the inning.

He's now gone through eight, allowing just one run on two hits — looks like his "slump" is over.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 12-1: Frank Francisco comes on for the Jays, with McCoy taking over in right and Juan Rivera at first base.

He first faces David Ortiz, who gets ahead 2-1, but then grounds to third.

The Sox, though, aren't done racking up doubles, and Drew Sutton gets in on the action, slapping one to right — that's six doubles for the Sox thus far.

Saltalamacchia gets on base for the fourth time, drawing a walk. The Sox, though, can't make anything of it, as Draw and Scutaro both strike out to end the inning.

End 7th, Red Sox 12-1: Cameron takes over for Sutton in left, and Sutton moves to first to take Gonzalez's place.

Lester continues to roll, throwing all of eight pitches in a 1-2-3 seventh.

First, he gets Jose Bautista to fly out to center.

Adam lind is replaced in the lineup by Juan Rivera, but Rivera makes little of his chance. He grounds to second on the first pitch he sees. Arabencia lasts a little longer. He takes a ball before grounding to Scutaro for the final out of the inning.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 12-1: The Sox continue to churn out the doubles, as Scutaro rips one to right center for a two-bagger.

Ellsbury, though, cannot advance him, as he fouls out to third.

Pedroia draws his second walk in as many innings, putting two men on with one man out.

Adrian Gonzalez will get the rest of the day off, as Mike Cameron comes up to the plate in his place. After a seven pitch battle, Cameron goes down looking. Youkilis has a chance to further add to the damage, but he falls behind Camp 0-2 and flies out to left to end the inning.

End 6th, Red Sox 12-1: Sutton replaces Crawford in left field, and Lester comes back out for the Sox.

He makes short work of the Jays, getting Nix to fly out to center before striking out Escobar and Patterson.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 12-1: Pedroia leads things off for the Sox with a walk, and subsequently moves up to second on a wild pitch, but Gonzalez strikes out swinging.

Youkilis drives Pedroia in with a double to deep center, and Ortiz follows his effort up with a double to deep center of his own, knocking in Youk to make it 11-1.

Shawn Camp comes in to relieve Luis Perez. He gets Carl Crawford to ground to short, though Ortiz moves to third on the play. Camp, however, can't get out of the inning as Saltalamacchia smashes the third double of the frame to center, scoring Papi to make it 12-1. Finally, JD Drew ends the inning with a K, swinging, but not before the Sox add insult to injury.

End 5th, Red Sox 9-1: When your starting pitchers are a complete afterthought, you know the offense is doing its job.

Almost forgot about the fact that Jon Lester looks as good as he has in the past month or so. He gives up a weak single in the fifth, but the runner goes nowhere and Lester finishes off the frame with a strikeout of Rajai Davis.

That is the fifth strikeout for Lester. No walks. That's the best number that may come from this game, despite all the wacky stats that the lineup is producing.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 9-1: Marco Scutaro adds an RBI single to the whole mess, giving Boston 13 runs in the fifth inning alone over the last two days.

The superlatives are almost too numerous to narrow down. Let's go the opposite route and point out that J.D. Drew is the only starter without a hit. He is 0-for-3 with two Ks.

2:22 p.m.: Single, homer, double, passed ball, walk, wild pitch, homer.

That spells five runs in the fifth and the end of the day for Kyle Drabek. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz had the homers, making this the second straight day that the team has hit two home runs in the fifth inning. Ortiz was on the back end of the double dip both times.

The Ortiz homer was just crushed. One of those shots that causes the outfielders to barely move a muscle. It also broke my computer, which had to reboot just to get that news to you.

Tried to start the David Ortiz for MVP campaign yesterday. This will only help.

End 4th, Red Sox 3-1: Jon Lester had only allowed one ball out of the infield and had yet to allow a single man to reach through the first 3 2/3 innings.

Jose Bautista put an end to all that stuff with a bomb to center, snapping a homerless streak of 44 at-bats.

No. 21 of the year for Bautista.

Adam Lind followed with a drive of his own that took Jacoby Ellsbury nearly to the track in center.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-0: A Jarrod Saltalamacchia single is all we get in the fourth. Toronto would have to be pretty happy if Kyle Drabek can get them six innings and keep the score where it is.

With his pitch count at 79, that's a possibility. He will need to navigate the top of the order in the fifth, which has not been easy so far.

End 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: As we sit here, the Sox have outscored the Jays 24-5 in this series. Talk about a beatdown. Dominance on all fronts.

Jon Lester records his second strikeout to finish off the third. Twenty-one of his 28 pitches have been strikes, but none of them very hittable at all. He looks very good early on.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: If you cannot throw strikes, the Red Sox will eat you alive.

Kyle Drabek is digging his own grave right now. He has thrown just 32 of his 67 pitches for strikes, and had a three-ball count on four different guys in the third.

The first two men walked. Dustin Pedroia helped out Drabek by swinging at a wild pitch for strike three, but the runners were able to advance when the ball went to the backstop.

That gave Adrian Gonzalez a good RBI opportunity, and he came through with a grounder to second. It is the 60th RBI in 65 games for Gonzalez.

Kevin Youkilis followed with a single to left for the third run. David Ortiz was given the green light on a 3-0 count but didn't do much with it. He chopped it back to Drabek for the final out.

End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Jon Lester needed seven pitches to retire the side in the first. It took him eight to get through the second. Clearly, he's tiring.

Lester picked up his first strikeout by freezing J.P. Arencibia on a back-door cutter. Twelve of Lester's first 15 pitches have been strikes.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Kyle Drabek went 3-2 on the first two men he faced in the second, but got them both with a sinker or changeup that looked pretty solid. MLB describes it as a two-seamer. Regardless, nice downward movement on a pretty speedy pitch.

He has tremendous stuff and will have his moments against the Red Sox and other AL East teams for years to come. Encounters when he beats a hitter deep in the count will only help his confidence grow.

End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Jon Lester is on pace to throw a 63-pitch perfect game after coasting through the bottom of the first inning. 

Not many 1-2-3 innings of late for Lester, so that was notable.

Lester did say after his start in Yankee Stadium the other day that it was the best he had felt in a long time, so maybe he is coming out of things a bit. The only real bad inning he had against the Yankees was the first. After that he was fine. Not great, but fine.

Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Kyle Drabek struck out Adrian Gonzalez the first two times they faced one another, and since then has homered twice, once to left and once to right.

The solo shot, the 13th of the season, gives Gonzalez 59 RBIs and makes him 9-for-18 with four home runs at Rogers Centre this year.

One other game to keep an eye on today is the Cubs-Phillies affair. With a win in Toronto and a loss by Philadelphia, the Red Sox will have the best record in baseball.

Pretty remarkable considering they had the worst mark in the game as late as April 17. Passed 29 teams in the "standings" in less than two months.

1:07 p.m.: Since it's 1:07, you know baseball has begun in Toronto. Kyle Drabek throws a strike to Jacoby Ellsbury.

12:43 p.m.: Despite his recent struggles, Jon Lester can become the first nine-game winner in the American League this afternoon.

He also has a pair of minor milestones in sight. Lester is three strikeouts away from tying Ray Culp for 11th on the team's all-time list. Certainly, the ball will go on the mantle when that strikeout is recorded. With his ninth K today, or whenever it comes, Lester will be at 800 for his career.

He'll move into the top 10 in Red Sox history once he reaches 822.

That doesn't mean much to Lester right now. He wants to find a way to get his stuff in sync. He has been heavily reliant on his cutter of late, but even that has strayed from him from time to time, as evidenced by the sudden sharp increase in hit batters. As Lester points out, it is a pitch that looks like a straight fastball until it breaks in on righties late, so they don't move in time and get clipped.

Mark Teixeira and Russell Martin were victims in Lester's last start, and he now leads the majors in HBPs with nine.

Those wayward offerings are just part of this run that has seen Lester allow an average of almost two runners an inning, HBPs included. To be exact, it is 67 baserunners in 35 innings.

Run support has enabled Lester to win games at a good clip. But he needs to start working out of the stretch more often.

11:13 a.m.: Jon Lester has had a spotty history against the Blue Jays.

Twice last year he threw seven scoreless innings vs. Toronto, striking out 11 in one of those outings. He also gave up nine runs in just two innings against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

Lester earned his first victory of 2011 against Toronto on April 17, allowing just a run in six innings. He followed that up by giving up five runs on seven hits and a season-high five walks in 5 1/3 innings at Rogers Centre on May 10.

That started this little stretch of ineffectiveness, during which Lester's ERA is 6.17. He will try to snap out of it against this lineup:

Yunel Escobar, SS
Corey Patterson, LF
Jose Bautista, RF
Adam Lind, 1B
J.P. Arencibia, C
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Rajai Davis, CF
Jayson Nix, 3B

Patterson is 7-for-15 (.467) with a home run against Lester. Nix is 4-for-9 (.444) with two homers. On the other side of the coin, Bautista, Lind and Hill are just 12-for-77 (.156).

10:33 a.m.: For the sake of clarification, the Red Sox' current eight-game winning streak is the longest since an 11-game run in 2009. Had mentioned yesterday it was the longest since 2006, when there were 12 straight victories at one point.

Not true. My bad. Regardless, it's getting up there. Their 21-6 stretch also ranks among the top 200 27-game runs in franchise history. That's an awkward stat, but with each win it becomes a more historic surge.

Just before that surge began, the Sox dropped two in a row in Toronto, and today's starter for the Blue Jays, Kyle Drabek, was on the mound for the first of those two setbacks.

You might recall that was the game that ended on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th inning after Rajai Davis stole two bases on Jason Varitek and Matt Albers.

But while Drabek was on the mound, the Red Sox had some success. David Ortiz doubled and scored his first time up, homered his second and singled in his third. Adrian Gonzalez, just then in the midst of his incredible power surge, looked overmatched by Drabek the first two times up, striking out on a pair of changeups. In their third encounter, Gonzalez smoked a two-run shot the opposite way.

Gonzalez homered later that game to tie it in the ninth.

Drabek posted a 2.75 ERA over his next three starts before getting rocked in an outing against Cleveland in which he lasted just two-thirds of an inning. He got the win his last time out, but gave up five runs on nine hits and three walks (no strikeouts) in 5 1/3 innings.

All part of being a young pitcher trying to figure it all out. Very up and down. The way Boston hit him the first time and the way the Sox are surging right now, there could be some down times today.

9:32 a.m.: Do not be surprised if Jed Lowrie is starting at shortstop against left-handers only going forward. His struggles against righties, coupled with Marco Scutaro's hot bat, have put the position in flux once again.

Lowrie is out of the lineup Sunday with right-hander Kyle Drabek on the mound for Toronto. Here is the batting order:

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

Scutaro is coming off a four-hit game and is 14-for-31 (.452) during an eight-game hitting streak. Sure, four of those games came before his oblique strain way back in early May, but you get the idea.

Lowrie is just 4-for-32 (.125) in June and hasn't homered since April 20.

8 a.m.: The Red Sox will look to record their third straight three-game sweep and their longest winning streak since June 2006 when they finish a series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon.

If the first two games of the series are any indication, the sweep is a foregone conclusion. Boston has outscored Toronto 21-5 in taking games Friday night and Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, it will be up to rookie Kyle Drabek to try to slow the thundering Red Sox offense.

Boston's eight-game winning streak matches the longest since a 12-game run just under five years ago.

Drabek will be opposed by Jon Lester, who is attempting to become the first nine-game winner in the American League. Lester is 4-1 over his last six starts, but has an ERA of 6.17 in that span. The one no-decision during the stretch came in Toronto on May 10, when he was reached for five runs on seven hits and five walks in 5 1/3 innings.

First pitch is the very Toronto-like 1:07 p.m.

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