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Entering the final game against the White Sox all the Red Sox had left to play for this season was the Mike Lowell farewell game, spoiler rights against the Yankees, and Jon Lester’s road toward 20 wins. Four innings into the game, Lester’s quest had ended.
There’s often talk about relief pitchers having the “closer mentality” that serves them well in the 9th inning of a close game, but poorly in the seventh inning of a blowout just to get some work in. With their playoff chances dashed, maybe some of that got into the head of Jon Lester, who could do nothing right against the White Sox. Maybe he was just due for a bad start and coincidence got the better of him. Whatever the reason, it was a tough way for the Sox lefty to finish the year.
Chicago started off the game well, scoring a quick run in the first and then another in the third, which tied the score 2-2. Unfortunately for Lester, the strike zone was out of his control as he walked 5 on the night, equaling his strikeout total. With some of those walks loading the bases for Paul Konerko, the game was quickly out of hand. The dependable Konerko, continuing his resurgent season, connected for a grand slam, putting the Red Sox in a hole they would never escape. Adding insult to injury, Juan Pierre stole three bases off the combination of Lester and Victor Martinez, who had recently shown improvement controlling the running game.
What can you say, the guy can hit lefties. Victor drove in both Red Sox runs with his 20th homer of the season.
Of all the games for Lester to have an off night, this one was a particularly poor. Without much excitement left in the season, Lester’s quest for 20 wins, while not the yardstick it used to be, was still a cause for joy in Red Sox Nation.
W: Danks (15-11)
L: Lester (19-9)