2 for 42!!! (And That Jon Lester Guy…)

    As NESN and the Globe have made quite clear while providing no statistical context whatsoever, Boston’s record when trailing after eight innings was an absolutely pathetic 1 for 41. They were just so unclutch. But no more, thanks to the combined heroics of Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek, and Coco Crisp! Next stop: 3 for 43!

    And it was a fun win. Kazmir did what Kazmir always does—strong
start, lots of K’s, but a high pitch count and only six or fewer innings—and
the Tampa Bay pen continued its march towards the title of “Worst Bullpen In
Major League History.” They even made
our Canadian look good, as Eric Gagne picked up the win by striking out Carlos
Pena, Delmon Young, and Jonny Gomes in the ninth. Sure, he gave up a long double to Brendan Harris, and sure, his
three strikeout victims are among the easiest in the league to K, but progress is

    Then there’s Jon Lester. I almost sat down after his last start to rant about his
premature callup, pointing to his dreadful control last season and the fact
that he was even worse as a minor-leaguer this year. To be honest, I fully expected to lose tonight’s game, even if
Jon was effective against Tampa the last time they met. But I was wrong, thankfully, and Lester made
it through 7 innings, allowing just the one run on two hits and a walk. Most impressive given his recent pitch-count issues was that he needed only 97 pitches to do it. Nine the seventeen outs Lester got via the ball in play came on the
ground, and he threw a solid %64 of his pitches for strikes. Real good stuff.

    I’m still
not fully convinced, but Jon’s less of a concern now then he was was two or three
starts ago. I was only listening to the
game on the radio, and so I have no real idea of whether Lester was that good or the
Rays were just that bad. They do rank
second in baseball in strikeouts, and own the worst K/BB in the American
League. And they don’t see many
pitches, with a P/PA tied for fifth-worst in the AL. But this was a definite step in the right direction, and
something Lester really needed given how poorly he’d fared against Seattle and
Los Angeles.

besides, the way the schedule currently lines up, Jon gets to face these Rays
three more times before season’s end. Three of his next eight starts should come against Tampa, along with games against Baltimore, Minnesota, and the White Sox. Mediocre offenses all, with Toronto and New York posing the biggest threats through September. He’ll likely remain somewhat inconsistent,
but there’s at least a chance he makes good on his former top-prospect status and puts it together a bit down the stretch. Or
maybe I’m just deluded by the excitement of a walk-off win.

10 comments… add one
  • One of the biggest wins of the season, at least in teh past 3 months. Hopefully this is where the Sox don’t look back and go on a big run here.
    I also think its 2 AND 42, not 2 for 42, so I believe we are go for 3 and 42.

    NeffSox August 15, 2007, 8:37 am
  • So, you might remember last week, I was criticizing the Sox for not being able to come back late in games. Coincidentally, I was actually at the game last night. I’m thinking that dramatic win was just to prove me wrong. Ah, well. Made all that much better when the Yankees are routed by the birds. :)

    MrBlackthorne August 15, 2007, 9:19 am
  • Such a great game last night, god I needed that. It’s a shame that SF and Paul missed it. Like them, I have also taken short Red Sox vacations in the past when it literally started to negatively effect my life, so I understand. But it’s tough when things like this happen and you miss them.
    Having Mike Lowell, also a cancer survivor, crush that ball out to tie the game at one, was just magic.
    Also, we just won the Wakefield start and Lester start, any week we win both of their starts bodes well. Now we just need the 3 big guns to keep the momentum rolling.

    LocklandSF August 15, 2007, 9:19 am
  • D1, From watching the game with my own eyes, I’d have to say Lester was that good. Sure, the Rays were terrible, but Jon had great control all night, and it’s definitely the best I’ve seen him pitch in a long time.

    Kluv August 15, 2007, 9:41 am
  • I think it’s worth noting that when you’re losing in the 9th, you pretty much don’t win in most cases (as SF has taken trouble to point out elsewhere), so that stat isn’t as dire as it looks. When they went walk-off crazy last year, the Sox won 6 times (I think) when trailing in the 9th inning. In ’05, 4 times trailing in the 9th. So we’re on pace for kind of a crap year for comebacks comparatively, but as long as they win one way or another, that’s fine. Pretty sweet to have some drama yesterday, though.

    Devine August 15, 2007, 9:58 am
  • In other news, the Red Sox are a terrible 0 for 42 when trailing after 9 innings.

    Andrew F (Sox Fan) August 15, 2007, 10:52 am
  • As we all know, that stat is absurd. What bothers me that the brass at NESN is making a big deal out of it and the morons on WEEI make a big deal out of it. Joe Schmoe Red Sox fan seems upset by it, which tells me these people didn’t understand how otherworldly all those late inning come from behind wins were over the last few years. They didn’t appreciate it when it was happening and they are no spoiled and feel like the team should win those games which is simply an unfair expectation. I blame the media and it’s a shame. I almost punched a co-worker this morning when he said, “It’s about time they won one of those!”

    LocklandSF August 15, 2007, 11:37 am
  • Lockland, I believe that people are noticing the lack of late comeback wins not so much because become accustomed to them, but due to the fact that it highlights an actual problem: the Red Sox slugging percentage goes way down after the 6th inning. This was actually demonstrated last night when the Sox were completely shut down in the 7th and 8th by relievers with ERA’s larger than my shoe size. Kazmir being pulled after the 6th was a gift that they almost squandered.
    In past years, even if the Sox didn’t manage a win in late innings, it seemed like they put up a fight. Due to the lack of hitting after the 6th, this team has shown a propensity for losing close games with a whimper. I guess that’s just something we have to accept from this version of the Red Sox. As long as they continue to have the best record in baseball, I guess we can’t complain.

    MrBlackthorne August 15, 2007, 12:22 pm
  • To me, the key for Gagne was how nasty his offspeed stuff was. The pitch he struck Pena out on was sick. Pena was totally frozen.
    Great take on the stupid “come from behind” stat and also on Rizzuto.

    Jay August 15, 2007, 12:40 pm
  • Back to the same old story only after one great comeback. Ortiz and Manny just don’t have the excitement this year.

    Marge August 15, 2007, 5:07 pm

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