69-45: Sox rally late, salvage one game against the Halos

After some early back and forth, the Red Sox pulled out game 3 last night in Anaheim, 9-6. They won despite David Ortiz being scratched from the lineup with a sore shoulder.

Starter Jon Lester suffered his worst ever major league outing, struggling with control and lasting just 3 1/3 innings despite throwing 93 pitches (only 54 of which were strikes). He gave up five runs on eight hits and three walks in total. Lester was falling behind hitters from the beginning, and they were able to sit on his fastball early. If there was any bright side to this outing, it was that the Angels were only able to get line drive singles off of him; the only extra base hit off of him was a double by Chone Figgins in the fourth. Of course, the Angels are mostly a singles-type of team anyway, so I don’t know if that say more about them than Lester.

The Red Sox bullpen had to go through five pitchers, but all performed well, and the Angels scored only one run in the remaining 5 2/3 innings. Of course, it helps a lot when you can go Hideki Okajima in the seventh, Eric Gagne in the eighth, and Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth (save number 26). Mike Timlin deserves recognition for his 1 1/3 scoreless innings, acting as the bridge to those three. Thank goodness for the day off today.

Dustin Moseley more or less cruised through three innings. I had a bad feeling in my gut when Julio Lugo singled to lead off the game, but was then picked off of first base by the catcher. The Sox mounted a four-run rally in the 4th inning to go ahead 4-3 when Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis had consecutive singles, and Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell followed with three long RBI doubles to left center.

After needing 51 pitches to get through two innings, Lester seemed to settle down in the third, striking out two to end the frame. But when he came out in the 4th with the lead, things got shaky again. After striking out Jeff Mathis, he issued two consecutive walks. The Angels pulled off a double steal to get men at second and third, and Figgins doubled to score them. 5-4, Los Angeles.

The Red Sox were lucky as Lugo and Pedroia both reached on infield hits in the fifth, and engineered their own two-part double steal. Boston would take the lead back off of a sac fly by Youkilis and an RBI single by Lowell, but it wasn’t over. The Angels tied it at 6 in their half of the inning when Vladimir Guerrero had a leadoff double (very nearly a home run), was moved over, then came home on a fielder’s choice.

Top of the 7th, Pedroia leading off against Justin Speier. He drives a 1-1 pitch into the left field bullpen, just over the reaching Garrett Anderson for the game-winning RBI. Game over, with our bullpen. What a game for the rookie second baseman, 3-5 with three runs scored and his fifth home run to win it! The Red Sox added two more in the eighth with the help of a passed ball and a wild pitch to make it 9-6.

Lowell also had a heck of a game, going 4-4 with three doubles. Brandon Moss, who started in right field, got his first major league hit and scored in the eighth, congrats.

I heard some guy on the radio today saying we traded the wrong left-handed pitcher. He went on to compare Kason Gabbard and Lester, trying to say they’re two soft-tossing lefties. That is just ridiculous. First of all, it’s inaccurate. Gabbard works in the mid- to high-80s, while Lester works in the low 90s. Gabbard will never touch 95 mph in this lifetime. Secondly, Gabbard’s stuff will never match up against Lester’s. Lester has three plus pitches and a decent curveball, while Gabbard has a sinker, plus changeup and a curveball. Gabbard is more reliable, but you have to remember that he’s about two years older than Lester, and more mature. He’s got better control of his stuff at this stage. But let’s not forget that wild inning in Cleveland.

Bottom line, you can’t teach velocity and you can’t teach stuff. Lester’s ceiling is way higher, and that’s why they kept him. That’s why other teams are so interested in trading for him. Yeah, it’s frustrating when he has a game like this one. The umpiring was not very good in this game, IMHO; it was a very tight strike zone (check out MLB GameDay to see for yourself), which didn’t help Lester. Yes, there’s a chance he might never quite get it, but the chances are much higher that he’ll have a better career than Gabbard.


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