When you fly from the East Coast to the West Coast, the three-hour change in time takes its toll, even if it's easier to go west than to go east. There's a point—for me, it's usually about four or five days into a trip—when the human body needs the respite from trying to live its normal routine pushed ahead by three hours. The results are sluggishness and fatigue. It generally passes after a day or two, but it's not fun, and not helpful when you're playing a game whose critical moments last just hundredths of a second.
Judging by the Red Sox offense's woeful Friday night, you'd think they collectively ran into that wall. The only redeeming quality of Friday's series-opener between the Red Sox and the Dodgers is that it was mercifully brief: just 2 hours and 20 minutes from first pitch to final out—which, in Red Sox time, is a blink of an eye. It was, without a doubt, a brilliant pitcher's duel, between John Lackey and Ricky Nolasco. There was only one mistake made, and unfortunately, in this case, it was by John Lackey, sending the Red Sox to a 2-0 loss.
How good were both Nolasco and Lackey Friday night? Well, across eight innings, they faced a total of five batters above the minimum—combined. Lackey gave up only two hits to the perpetually petulant and pilfering Crawford (who has always done well against Lackey), and one hit to Hanley Ramirez. (The other "ghosts" in the lineup—Adrian Gonzalez and Tim Federowicz—did nothing offensively, but the player formerly known as Fedex did catch a gem.) The latter was the real mistake in the game, as Ramirez hit the ball out of the park to score the game's only runs. Other than that, however, Lackey had a great night, dispatching the remaining Dodgers with authority, striking out six and walking none.
As good as Lackey was, though, Nolasco was even better. He also allowed only three baserunners, but one of those was Daniel Nava, who yet again reached by getting plunked, this time in the fifth inning. He would make it to second base when Stephen Drew had one of the two hits Nolasco surrendered all night (Dustin Pedroia had the other, in the first inning). But the Sox's only real scoring opportunity of the game was squandered when Will Middlebrooks grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The only inning not pitched by the starters was the top of the ninth, as Kenley Jensen retired the side (with Mike Carp filling in for Lackey).
However, the pattern has continued this season: a great start by Lackey once again ruined by a complete lack of run support from the offense. Worse still, the loss, combined with a 7-2 Rays victory over the Yankees, means that the Red Sox are once again tied with the Rays. Fortunately for the Sox, it's their last late-evening West Coast game of the season, so one hopes they can move on from this and come back to take the remaining two games of this series. The Sox will look to even out the series Saturday afternoon, with Jon Lester on the mound against Hyun-Jin Ryu, and two full bullpens backing them up.