Final, Blue Jays 15-7: And that's a sweep. While the day was discouraging all-around for the Red Sox, it has to be especially bad for Jon Lester (11 earned runs, 9 hits, 5 walks), who didn't seem to have any idea what was going wrong and how he could make it better.
The Red Sox' offense did go silent late in the game, but when Boston had a chance, the batters were in it. Adrian Gonzalez (2-for-4, 3 RBI) and Jacoby Ellsbury (2-for-5, HR) are still looking sharp, and they and the rest of the Red Sox have to hope that a change of scenery will allow the offense to get back to where it was coming out of the All-Star break.
One piece of good news is that Roy Oswalt may not be starting for Texas anytime soon. Boston should be able to compete with the American League's big dogs in Texas and New York, but the Sox have to show some fire early in games to get on the right track.
We'll be back tomorrow as the Sox fly to Texas. Red Sox Monster Monday starts at 6:30 p.m., with first pitch in Arlington scheduled for 8:05. Check back with the live blog throughout the game for details and analysis.
Mid 8th, Blue Jays 15-7: The Red Sox have brought in their closer to finish this off. Well, you know.
Indeed, it was Alfredo Aceves coming in for more work in what has been a wretched series for the Sox. After Thursday night's huge win, Boston has just been lousy over the past three days. Worse yet, they're now firmly in the cellar in the American League East, and they're back at .500.
It almost got worse in this inning, when Dustin Pedroia and Mike Aviles ran into each other fielding a popup. The Red Sox should be happy to shake all of this off and get out of town, but the places they're heading — Texas and New York, then welcoming the Tigers at Fenway Park — provide a heavy slate to take on, especially with the team scuffling.
End 8th, Blue Jays 15-7: Not even a Cody Ross moonshot could make a difference today, but it still doesn't help that Ross' bat has gone silent. He's 0-for-4.
Bobby Valentine looked to get a little jolt from Pedro Ciriaco, pinch-hitting him for Ryan Sweeney, but he went down swinging.
Mid 8th, Blue Jays 15-7: Here's the breakdown.
Omar Vizquel hit a single. Brett Lawrie hit a single. Yunel Escobar went to bunt them over, and Melancon watched the ball roll down the third base line. So, that was a single, and everyone was safe.
Colby Rasmus hit a single, scoring Vizquel and Rasmus. Edwin Encarnacion hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Escobar.
Adam Lind came in to pinch hit and (can you guess?) hit a single. Then Matt Albers came in … and Rajai Davis hit a single. Travis Snider hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Rasmus, and mercifully, the inning ended.
Just a bunch of singles, right? No biggie?
4:34 p.m.: Mark Melancon is leaving the game, and Matt Albers is coming in. That's just six batters too late.
Melancon unfortunately has a history of implosions. Consider this: The only one-inning meltdown worse than what Jon Lester did today was what Melancon did against Texas in the early days of the 2012 season.
Melancon was sent to Pawtucket shortly after giving up six runs to the Rangers, seeing his ERA zoom up to 49.50 and pretty much failing as a pitcher in every way.
If Melancon is handing out advice, he may be the perfect guy to talk to Lester after today's mess. Then again, maybe Melancon should take some of the advice himself, as he's taken what could have been a close game and turned it into a further train wreck.
If Lester's start wasn't dispiriting enough, Melancon has now reserved all goodwill done by the defense and the Boston bats. What a morale killer.
End 7th, Blue Jays 11-7: Well, that's not going to help. Aaron Loup is doing a fine job keeping the Red Sox at bay, and he made that inning short.
Daniel Nava, one of only two Boston players who haven't had a hit today, went down on a strikeout, and Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia both grounded out.
Mid 7th, Blue Jays 11-7: Is it just me, or does Junichi Tazawa really seem to have the Blue Jays batters flailing and biting in a way they haven't been all day?
He's done an admirable job since coming in, striking out five Jays — three in a row. He just struck out the side.
In other news, it looks like the mascot from the Cape Cod League was hanging out with Wally the Green Monster in the stands behind the dugout. We just want to say we're glad they're having a lovely time today.
End 6th, Blue Jays 11-7: These Blue Jays are so helpful. Let's give a hat tip to Rajai Davis, who was wooed by the beautiful sunlight over Fenway Park and completely lost track of a Ryan Sweeney fly ball.
Mike Aviles made the most of the opportunity, doubling Sweeney home, then Nick Punto joined in the fun with his first hit of the day. His single scored Aviles and pulled the Sox within four.
3:49 p.m.: Henderson Alvarez's day is over.
If the Blue Jays hold on, this will be his second win of the season over the Red Sox — but his worst outing, as he's never allowed this many earned runs.
Alvarez was helped by Jon Lester's early struggles, but Toronto will turn to Chad Beck to keep Boston off the board next. Alvarez threw 104 pitches.
Mid 6th, Blue Jays 11-5: Now, that's how to get it done. Junichi Tazawa rung up two strikeouts and sent the Blue Jays down in order to bring the Sox bats up quickly.
End 5th, Blue Jays 11-5: Jacoby Ellsbury may have been a homer-hitting phenom last year, but that nice blast to center is just his first of this season, since he's spent much of the year on the disabled list.
Ellsbury had 32 home runs last year after never hitting more than nine in a year coming into 2011.
This could be the start of a big second half, although we've seen more speed than power from the 30-30 man so far this year.
It's only one run, but with one more an inning the rest of the way, the Sox can get close to tying this thing up.
Mid 5th, Blue Jays 11-4: The Red Sox keep themselves from further damage, with Nick Punto scooping up a hot grounder to start a double play.
3:20 p.m.: Jon Lester is done at last, and the fans are booing him loudly.
Lester put up two good innings, but he spoiled whatever confidence he gained after that by giving up a big Travis Snider home run to center after walking the leadoff batter. His day is now officially over.
End 4th, Blue Jays 9-4: Well, at least Adrian Gonzalez is hitting. He poked his second hit of the day with a single.
Gonzalez has been slowly improving over the season. He capped an 18-game hitting streak with two three-hit games against the Yankees, although his streak ended in that series when he left the July 7 game with illness. He's been just as sharp since the All-Star break, though, recording at least two hits in every game except the first two of this series with the Blue Jays. Today's hit gets him back on track, and he's now hitting .294 on the season.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia also got on the board with a single, breaking an 0-for-10 streak against Hernandez Alvarez. Ryan Sweeney also drew a walk to load the bases.
But, while Mike Aviles mustered a sacrifice fly to get one run home, the rest of the bottom of the order failed to come through. The Sox are getting guys on base, but they'll need more help if they want to overcome this deficit.
Also, Jon Lester is coming back out.
Mid 4th, Blue Jays 9-3: Junichi Tazawa is warming up for the Red Sox, and it looks like he may actually be coming in this time.
Jon Lester just can't keep guys off the bases. He gave up a leadoff single to Yunel Escobar and walked Edwin Encarnacion.
The defense pulled off a stellar double play to end the inning, but it will be surprising if Lester's night is not over after four innings and 85 pitches.
End 3rd, Blue Jays 9-3: The Red Sox offense has lost any spark it may have had.
Jacoby Ellsbury lost a long battle with Henderson Alvarez, and Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia both grounded out to second.
Mid 3rd, Blue Jays 9-3: That's not quite a 1-2-3 inning for Jon Lester, but it's close.
After allowing a Jeff Mathis single, he got a popup and double play to end the inning.
Bobby Valentine apparently wants Lester to stay in the game and work out his issues, and an inning like that at least shows him that he's not going to be lit up constantly. He's up to 67 pitches, so we'll see how much longer it goes.
End 2nd, Blue Jays 9-3: Mike Aviles, Ryan Sweeney and Nick Punto found a way to make a bad inning worse, going down in order.
If you want to look at something nicer, check out this highlight of Adrian Gonzalez's first-inning homer. Seems like a while ago, huh?
Mid 2nd, Blue Jays 9-3: Jon Lester's game ERA is 40.50. Yeah.
Bobby Valentine didn't have anyone up for a while, but he finally made a call to the bullpen after the ninth run to at least get someone warming.
Valentine had the sunflower seed spitting going for a bit there. I was going to joke that that's how he sends signals for defensive changes onto the field (two spits, put on the shift; side spit, infield come in). But it's not really a day for joking, eh?
When Rajai Davis torched the second of two monstrous home runs in a row — his actually clearing the Monster, whereas J.P. Arencibia's was merely a three-run blast — Lester didn't flinch, even with the rocket passing overhead.
The worst part about that horrible inning is that it ruined the good stuff the Red Sox had going for them. They had chipped back and driven in some runs. They were making great defensive plays — if Nick Punto continues to play this well, will Will Middlebrooks lose his job? If Daniel Nava can make catches like that, where does Carl Crawford's future lie?
It's not time for fun and games. Not even a couple of cute plays can dull what happened after. Karma had appeared to turn for the Sox, and Lester booted it.
End 1st, Blue Jays 5-3: OK, Red Sox. OK.
Adrian Gonzalez keeps telling people his power will come along. Maybe he just likes to save it for the days when the Sox are in a 5-0 hole early and he's got a couple of guys on base.
He absolutely mashed that ball to center, and Fenway Park could tell it was gone the second he connected. That's the kind of home run that doesn't just pick up the score — that's going to lift the fans and the starting pitcher, too.
But the rally began, as it often has lately, in the leadoff hole.
All that time Jacoby Ellsbury was on the disabled list, people kept saying the Red Sox would be better once he got back. Now, Sox fans love Ellsbury, but would his return really make that big of a difference?
Uh, yes. Exhibit A was on his first at-bat of the game. After the worst top of the inning that Boston could have had, Ellsbury just out-ran that grounder to short.
Sox fans think of Dustin Pedroia and the like when they talk about heart, but Ellsbury has heart, too, albeit a different kind. He can hammer home runs and make the nifty catches, but his speed shows he has a different gear than most other players. He keeps his head down and gets it done, and the Sox have to be happy to have his legs — and drive — back in the leadoff hole.
Ellsbury saved another out by jumping for second as Daniel Nava grounded out. The last thing the Red Sox needed was a double play.
Pedroia, who came into the game batting 3-for-9 against Henderson Alvarez, got to Alvarez again to set the plate for Adrian Gonzalez.
Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia both went down quickly, but Boston is back in it. This is what the second-half Red Sox have looked like more and more — moments of true horribleness, but then epic plays. Well, at least they're improving, right?
Mid 1st, Blue Jays 5-0: Whew. That couldn't have started any worse for Jon Lester.
Lester has been horrible in the first inning lately, leading a bad stretch for the Sox in opening frames. I detailed the problems the last time Lester started, and I don't have the heart to do it again or link further. He's been just wretched.
Brett Lawrie may have smelled fear, because he unloaded on the first pitch, putting the Sox in a hole one move into the game.
After a Yunel Escobar walk and a Colby Ramus bunt, the Jays were in perfect position to do some damage. Edwin Encarnacion obliged, dropping a double into right field.
That's the best kind of double the Red Sox could have gotten — since it was a ground-rule double, Rasmus had to hold on third. He would have likely scored on any other two-bagger.
J.P. Arencibia didn't let Boston enjoy the gift, though. All he did was rap a grounder, but it was enough to score a run.
Rajai Davis kept the show going with a blister of a double down the left field line, and Bobby Valentine made an early visit with the Red Sox down 4-0. Lester's pitch count was up to 19 just six batters in, but at this point, pitch counts and ball location is not what's on anyone's mind.
What the heck is wrong with Jon Lester?
Lester pulled it together to strike out Travis Snider, but maybe the Red Sox are just snakebitten today. The ball got away from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and he couldn't corral it in time to nab Snider at first. Davis also advanced to third on the play. So, the K turned into a single, basically.
Davis then scored on a Jeff Mathis bunt, and Omar Vizquel flew out to end the merciless inning.
Toronto batted around in that inning. Exhale.
1:30 p.m.: We're getting close to game time here. Jason Varitek, who was at Fenway Park yesterday to be honored for his time with the Red Sox, has some advice for Jon Lester and Josh Beckett as the two continue to struggle deep into the season. Check it out.
11:30 a.m.: Here are your lineups for today. Get more details on what's behind the batting order.
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Daniel Nava LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Cody Ross DH
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Ryan Sweeney RF
Mike Aviles SS
Nick Punto 3B
Jon Lester P
Brett Lawrie 3B
Yunel Escobar SS
Colby Rasmus CF
Edwin Encarnacion 1B
J.P. Arencibia DH
Rajai Davis RF
Travis Snider LF
Jeff Mathis C
Omar Vizquel 2B
Henderson Alvarez P
8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox came out of the All-Star break swinging, winning five of seven before falling to the Blue Jays on Friday night and again last night. With the final matchup of their three-game series with Toronto (47-47) on Sunday, the Sox (48-47) will look to cap their most recent homestand with a victory as they prepare for trips to two American League heavy hitters in Texas and New York this week.
Jon Lester (5-7, 4.80 ERA) is on the mound for Boston. Lester had quite the rough outing in his last start, going just four innings against the White Sox as former teammate Kevin Youkilis roughed him up for a back-breaking home run in the 7-5 loss. Lester has now allowed seven hits or more in five of his last six starts. He desperately needs to find his mojo sometime soon if he's going to have a better second half than the first, and that could start Sunday against the Jays. Toronto was the team that gave Lester his last win, on June 27, when he went seven innings and allowed four earned runs.
Henderson Alvarez (5-7, 4.29) will start for the Blue Jays. Alvarez has faced the Sox three times this season, losing the first two times out after allowing one and four earned runs, respectively. But in his last start at Fenway Park, Alvarez got the W despite giving up three earned runs over five innings.
The fun begins at 12:30 p.m., with pregame analysis and news getting you ready for first pitch at 1:35. Be sure to tune in to NESN for all the action, and stick with our live blog for all of the latest news and analysis.
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