Tuesday, December 10, 2013
BOSTON - Remember that Cody Ross walk-off home run last Thursday? Seems like eons ago.
When Ross swatted a three-run homer to beat the White Sox, it looked like one of those team-waking, streak-igniting moments in a season. Circle the date. This is when the Red Sox began their march to the post-season.
Instead, three losses followed -- the latest a 15-7 decision to Toronto on Sunday, completing a three-game sweep by the Blue Jays, who were in last place in the American League East.
That spot now belongs to Boston. The 48-48 Red Sox continue their average ways, and now are on the road in Texas, then New York.
As for the Ross homer so long ago, the old adage remains: In baseball, momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher.
Since the Ross homer, Josh Beckett gave up four earned runs in six innings.
Then Aaron Cook did okay, allowing four runs (three earned) over 61/3 innings.
On Sunday, Jon Lester dragged the starting rotation to a new low with his worst outing of the season, allowing nine runs in the first two innings, and two more in the fifth. He gave up a career-high four home runs.
"It's embarrassing," Lester said. "I've let my team down a lot this year. It's hard for me to walk around this clubhouse and look guys in the eye right now."
And, in case you're wondering, Lester became the first Red Sox pitcher to allow 11 runs since Doug Byrd in 1983. Byrd was once a solid Kansas City starter but was at the end of his career in 1983.
Lester, 28, should be in his prime.
But as this Boston team is desperately looking for ways to improve, Lester is getting worse.
In his first 17 starts, Lester was so-so with a 5-5 record and 4.05 ERA.
Since then, he is 0-3 with a 15.36 ERA in three starts.
"I'm not pitching well. I'm not doing my job," he said. "The guys scored seven runs today. We should have won. Like I said, it's embarrassing."
Lester sports a team-worst 5.46 ERA among the starters (unless you count Daisuke Matsuzaka and his 6.65 ERA - but who is counting on Dice-K?).
In starts by Lester and Beckett, Boston is a combined 13-23. (By comparison, Boston is 13-5 in Felix Doubront's starts).
Lester's first pitch Saturday, a 95 mph fastball, came at 1:37 p.m. Before it was 1:38, it was 1-0 Blue Jays. Brett Lawrie had jacked it over the Green Monster.
After that, Toronto Blue Jays third base coach, Brian Butterfield -- the pride of Standish, Maine -- became a busy man, waving runners in.
First inning: five runs on a walk and four hits (and one squeeze play).
Second inning: four runs on two walks and two hits (both homers).
The third and fourth inning featured base-runners, but also a pair of 6-4-3 double plays.
The fifth inning: walk and one more home run. That brought out manager Bobby Valentine. Lester gave him the ball and then heard the boos.
Junichi Tazawa relieved Lester and gave up two hits over three innings, striking out five. He dropped his ERA to 1.17.
The bullpen is performing well (save for Mark Melancon). Franklin Morales warmed up at one point, but did not go in.
Morales, if you remember, started five games (2-1, 3.42), but was then sent back to the pen.
Lester won't be sent to the bullpen, and he can't go to the minors. All he can do is hope for a quick turnaround.
"God, I hope so," Lester said. "It's getting old. I'm tired of (stinking)."
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: