There were bad signs early on for Lester, who needed 22 pitches to get through each of the first two innings. An uncooperative strike zone behind the plate seemed to frustrate him, leading to long look ins and even the occasional shout. Still, he managed to get around three walks to hold the Athletics scoreless through the first three innings.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, were not faring terribly well against Brett Anderson. The lefty was able to keep them frozen with a breaking ball that found its way into the zone with regularity. They did manage to wisen up to the strike zone in the second and third inning, making Anderson work for it, but still couldn't get on base.
In the fourth, Lester's difficulties adjusting to the zone would finally come around to bite him. After a pair of ground balls found their way into the outfield for singles, Lester made his big mistake pitch of the afternoon, hanging a lazy curveball to Chris Young, who launched it off the billboards over the Monster, putting the Athletics up 3-0.
As they have often done this year, however, the Red Sox offense responded immediately. Taking advantage of some high offerings from Anderson, the Sox got doubles from David Ortiz and Mike Napoli to finally put a run on the board. Jonny Gomes drew a walk behind them, and after a very close play at second on a Will Middlebrooks ground ball, Stephen Drew ripped a line drive into the corner in right, bringing both runs in on a triple and tying the game at three-all.
While the Oakland attack would tail of in the fifth, Boston's would keep going strong. With Anderson now hanging his offspeed pitches with regularity, the Red Sox started hitting sharp ground balls all over the place. Shane Victorino and David Ortiz would each pick off RBI hits off of him, with the latter chasing him from the game. Chris Resop fared little better, hitting Mike Napoli and then giving up an RBI hit to Daniel Nava that made it 6-3 in favor of Boston.
While Nava's hit reloaded the bases with zero outs, however, Jerry Blevins was able to escape the inning without further damage. And, for a while there, it seemed like Boston's inability to tack on a few more would prove costly. After coming in to clean up a bases loaded situation left by Jon Lester in the sixth, Junichi Tazawa tired with two outs in the seventh, allowing a run to come in on a double and single. Koji Uehara likewise had trouble, surrendering a loud home run to none other than Chris Young.
Now leading by just one run, the Red Sox turned to Andrew Bailey, sporting a wipeout 85 mile per hour pitch that Jerry Remy and Fangraphs are both calling a cutter, but really looks more like a slurve. He would get John Jaso swinging at it high and away, then punched out Seth Smith with the same pitch. Only Jed Lowrie would provide some fear, hitting a long line drive to right that dropped right near the inside of the foul line. It may have grabbed the slightest bit of chalk, or hit a fan's hand, but in the end it was called a foul ball by slimmest of margins. Two pitches later, and Bailey went back to his wipeout offering, getting Lowrie swinging as well to end the game.
Read more Red Sox:
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- The value of Felix Doubront to the Boston Red Sox
- In defense of Stephen Drew
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