BOSTON -- The last hitter Jon Lester faced Friday night at Fenway Park was Arizona Diamondbacks designated hitter Jason Kubel. After a base hit to right field scored a run, it sounded like the “Kuuuuuuu” chants had broken out in support of the burly DH from South Dakota.
But actually, those were boos for Lester. Kubel’s following in Boston is likely limited and the Red Sox left-hander was getting hammered, spoiling the progress he had made since the All-Star break.
Kubel’s RBI was the sixth run -- all earned -- scored against Lester in just 4 1/3 innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out six, but gave up 11 hits, six of which went for extra bases. Instead of finding his groove, Lester was grooving it, and the result of his latest rocky outing helped the Diamondbacks pick up a 7-6 victory in the first of three games between the two teams.
Here are some tidbits from along the way:
Revengeful Ross: Former Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross blew into Boston with an agenda. He made it clear in interviews earlier in the day that he was not pleased with how contract negotiations went with the Red Sox during the offseason and how difficult the 2012 season had been (join the crowd, Cody).
Also on the docket for Ross: Go 4-for-5 with a home run, three RBIs, and his first stolen base in 70 career games at Fenway Park.
Ross had a double off Lester in the first, singled in a run in the third, and then doubled off his old teammate again in the fifth. But the biggest blow delivered on a very anti-Red Sox day for Ross was his solo shot (complete with bat flip) against Pedro Beato in the seventh. It landed atop the Green Monster, survived an umpire review, gave the Diamondbacks a lead they would not lose and must’ve felt great for Ross.
From a current Diamondback to a former one: As Ross terrorized Red Sox pitching, Stephen Drew stayed hot by going 2-for-2 with a two-run homer and a sacrifice fly against his former team. It continues a nice surge for Drew, the lone survivor of the left-side-of-the-infield drama. He has three homers, five walks, and eight RBIs in his last seven games, including the game-winning hit Wednesday night against Seattle.
Drew also led off the ninth with a base hit. There wasn’t a soul in the neighborhood that wasn’t thinking about another walk-off win for Boston, but it was not to be this time.
Pedroia went 0-for-5 for the first time since May 2 and made three of those outs with runners in scoring position.
One of these days: Lester’s inability to throw to first base is going to bite him in the bum in a big game. It’s been a couple of years now that he has been unable to make clean outs on grounders back to the mound, and his ability to hold runners has suffered due to a complete inability to throw pickoff attempts with any sort of confidence.
After picking off 15 runners from 2009 to 2011, Lester has not recorded a single pickoff in the last two years. After just 54 percent of base-stealers were successful against him in 2011, more than 80 percent have swiped bags between 2012 and 2013.
He showed more shakiness, about as much as one can, on a weak comebacker in the first inning. After fielding Martin Prado’s tapper, Lester looked like he was tossing a water balloon over to first base. It bounced softly several feet in front of Mike Napoli, who fortunately had no problem gloving it for the out.
Lester’s not alone among pitchers who are hesitant throwing to bases, but his yips are pretty prevalent.
Early power: That comebacker was one batter after Paul Goldschmidt put Arizona up 2-0 with a laser into the Monster seats. It was only the second home run Lester has allowed in 23 first innings but the 16th by Red Sox pitchers, tied for the most by the staff in any inning.
This ain’t the NL West, Randall: Delgado had thrown 14 2/3 scoreless innings over his previous two starts. But those came at San Francisco and at home against San Diego, two offenses that do not hold a candle to Boston’s. Especially on a Friday night at Fenway when the ball was carrying pretty well.
It took only four batters for the scoreless streak to end when David Ortiz went deep for a two-run homer in the first, and Delgado could not pick up his teammates after an error to open the second, giving up a pair of unearned runs to give Boston a 4-2 advantage.
Delgado settled down a bit before serving up the game-tying two-run blast to Drew in the sixth. The six runs allowed were a season high for the Arizona righty.