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Who’d have thought Jon Lester v. David Pauley would have made for a Saturday night pitcher’s duel? While Lester’s home state and the confines of SafeCo Field have not exactly been kind to him in previous starts, he began a dominant roll in this one, retiring the first 16 batters he faced. He had struck out ten, and the other six had not made it out of the infield. It was the kind of night and match-up (Lester was facing the worst offensive team in the game, with a Majors-low .234 team batting average and 326 runs scored, among other categories) that made you feel as though Lester would mow them all down and put on a display that would wow Fenway West.
Little thought was given to Lester’s opponent on the evening, beyond his roots in the Red Sox farm system and his forgettable stint as a spot starter for them in ’06 and ’08. But David Pauley proved that having an inept offense behind you is only as tough as you make it on yourself, as he produced an admirable 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball and helped the Seattle Mariners secure a 5-1 victory over a struggling Boston offense in Seattle on Saturday night.
There’s no true telling as to whether or not Eric Patterson’s outfield blunder threw Lester off his game, but he had certainly been on it to that point. That tailing liner was the first ball the Mariners had mustered to the outfield, and quickly unraveled any hopes of perfection on the evening. Lester finished the evening with a season-high 13 strikeouts, and while his final line didn’t display his dominance, Jon Lester was the victim of a line-up that is desperately missing much of it’s working parts. After a 4th inning home run by David Ortiz put the Sox ahead 1-0, the offense sputtered and leaned it’s hopes on the dominant performance their ace was putting forth. The Red Sox didn’t put together a rally, not even a hit, beyond the fifth inning, and watched the game slip from their fingers, as Lester’s first mistake of the evening was deposited over the right field wall on a hanging curveball by Seattle’s Michael Saunders. The lead and the no-hitter were lost. As was the game.
There will be similar sentiments ringing true after this one for many BoSox fans. “Really?! David *bleepin’* Pauley?!” As the Red Sox do their best to tread water in a Wild Card race (let’s just drop the division talk now) that sees them lose another game to the Tampa Bay Rays, Saturday night was a stinging reminder that while optimism begins to seep around this team with the return of some key parts, we need to see what this team can do when the big guns are back in their regular spots in the lineup. All signs point to Victor Martinez returning on Monday in Los Angeles, and with the ongoing Jacoby Ellsbury saga gaining steam with a looming rehab assignment (as he loses credibility abound), the wait will be on for the team’s all-around leader, Dustin Pedroia (he don’t need no stinkin’ rehab assignment). With Pedey and V-Mart in place, and Ellsbury hopefully taking his usual spot and the pressure off Marco Scutaro at the top of the lineup, this team will most likely forego a big move at the trade deadline and lean on the sum of it’s parts for a September run towards the playoffs. And with another 10-game road trip on the horizon, including a key series in New York against the Yanks, the hopes that this lineup and bullpen can support this now-intact starting rotation have to be considered fragile. For everyone’s sake.
Again, his line does not do him total justice: 7 2/3 IP, four hits, five runs (four earned), one walk and 13 strikeouts. Ten of those K’s came in the first 16 he set down, but Lester was truly able to locate and throw any pitch at any time. His one mistake proved costly and it unraveled from there, but Lester once again came off the mound having proved he is the best pitcher on this roster.
Only five hits on the evening, and none after the fifth inning. David Ortiz’s 19th home run of the season was the lone bright spot, while the likes of Kevin Cash (batting a putrid .149) and others made David Pauley (still no wins in his career) look like a world-beater, and continued to instill little hope in the offensive production of this team while they await the arrival of the cavalry.
W: Chris Seddon (1-0)
L: Jon Lester (11-5)
S: Garrett Olson (1)
Tags: Chris Seddon, David Ortiz, David Pauley, Dustin Pedroia, Eric Patterson, Garrett Olson, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Kevin Cash, Marco Scutaro, Michael Saunders, Red Sox, SafeCo Field, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Victor Martinez