Lester's Remarkable Start Derailed, Red Sox Offense Missing

SEATTLE - JULY 24: Starting pitcher Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after giving up a two-run home run to Michael Saunders #55 of the Seattle Mariners to break up a no-hitter in the sixth inning at Safeco Field on July 24 2010 in Seattle Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

It's hard not to think about what could have been.

Jon Lester, after sitting down the first 16 batters he faced, gave up his first fly ball of the night to Jack Wilson. Eric Patterson ranged to his right, put his glove on the ball...and let it fall to the ground.

Pitching out of the stretch for the first time in the game, Lester hung a 2-2 curveball just a little high in the zone. That second fly ball left the park.

It sounds ridiculous to talk about a perfect game opportunity like this when it was lost in the sixth inning, but that's just a testament to how dominant Lester's stuff had been to that point. He threw strike after strike. The Mariners took deceptive pitches in the zone for strikes, and missed on pitches out of the zone that they had no real shot to hit. When they did make contact, it was weak and on the ground.

Unfortunately, the final line gives only the one hint that this was the Lester we saw tonight--the 13 strikeouts. With the perfect game lost, and trailing 2-1 in the eighth inning, things came further undone for Lester. Entering the inning with 99 pitches, it was a different Lester we saw, allowing three hits and his only walk of the night. Manny Delcarmen proved entirely incapable of putting out the fire once again, walking a runner and then bringing in a run by hitting Jose Lopez before finally getting out of the inning with the final score of 5-1 on the board. Ultimately, Lester was left taking the 7.2 inning loss with four earned runs.

Not that they needed that many. Indeed, Lester would have had to be nearly perfect in order to walk away with the win tonight thanks to an inept Red Sox offense. David Ortiz' solo shot to right provided them with their lone run as the Sox stranded seven baserunners on the night. What do you expect, though, with players like Patterson and Jeremy Hermida batting second and seventh respectively?

A Rays win puts the Red Sox back to four down in the wild card race as the trade deadline gets closer and closer.

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