Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lester knocked around in first start

Jon Lester is done after five innings and 94 pitches. He pitched great through four innings but came apart in the fifth, surrendering a walk, a single, a bunt single, a bloop single behind third base and a two-run home run to dead center field.

Lester had walked nine hitters in his last nine spring training innings; he walked two in his five innings, but his control actually looked pretty good early. His curveball in particularly was nasty; he struck out Dioner Navarro (looking) and Ben Zobrist (swinging) on curveballs in pretty much the same spot (over the plate and right at the knees) in the second inning. He then fanned Carlos Pena on a great fastball up and in.

A walk issued to Gabe Kapler, though, burned him in the top of the fifth. Akinori Iwamura (who had the benefit of a quick 2-0 count) slapped a perfect hit-and-run single to left field, and Jason Bartlett then laid down a squeeze bunt that scored Kapler.

Lester caught a bad break when Carl Crawford's pop fly to shallow left field eluded both Jed Lowrie and Jason Bay along the foul line.

But it wasn't a bad break when, after Evan Longoria hit into a double play, the previously hitless-on-the-season Carlos Pena hit a Bernie Carbo shot on a pitch left up in the zone where he could extend his arms and go after it. (The mistake is particularly egregious given that umpire Bob Davidson has shown an inexplicable eagerness to call strikes on pitches down and away.)

Check back for an update after Lester meets with the media.

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