BOSTON, MA - JULY 17: Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox wipes the sweat off of his face in between pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the game on July 17, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
The Red Sox had the top of the lineup working exactly as planned. They got a big homer from Kelly Shoppach and a good night from Adrian Gonzalez. The relief pitching provided five solid innings of one-run ball.
And the Red Sox lost. Because Jon Lester was bad.
This night wasn't about good hits on good pitches, or bad defense, or anything of the sort. Paul Konerko squeezed an unfortunate double down the line on a decent pitch in the first, yes, but the rest was pretty much all Lester.
It was what has become a classic bad Jon Lester outing, replete with two-strike hits and poorly thought-out pitches that never should have been thrown and, of course, a first-inning disaster. The Sox managed to recover from the two-run opening frame with one of their own, powered by Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford, but from there Humber went into shutdown mode (a mode he shouldn't really have against the Red Sox) while Lester imploded, allowing one more in the second and then a three-run shot to Kevin Youkilis in the fourth.
On the positive side of things, Crawford and Ellsbury were once again productive, combining for five hits (though two of Crawford's three came on the infield) and four steals (three from Crawford), and Junichi Tazawa provided good work out of the bullpen.
But, as has so often been the case this year, the starting pitching just fell short.