The Red Sox left a staggering 14 men on base last night in the first nine innings and eventually lost to the Oakland A's, 5-4, in 11 innings. Mark Loretta made a rare error in the seventh that let in the tying run, and just when you want to like Julian Tavarez, he gives up two runs in the 11th to give Oakland the win.
As costly as Loretta's error and Tavarez' 11th inning were, it was the many lost opportunities early in the game that really ended up costing the Sox the game. The Sox had a chance to blow the game open early, but they were leaving two men on it seemed almost every inning. They were leaving runners everywhere, as were the A's early on, but Oakland finally cashed in.
Jon Lester pitched another solid five innings, and should have gotten the win. But he continues to live very dangerously, as he was in trouble almost every inning. He has incredible poise for a young pitcher, and nothing seems to faze him. He got a couple of key double plays to get out of jams. But he threw 103 pitches in just the five innings, as he was going to deep counts on almost every hitter. He wound up walking five (the walk total MUST come down).
Lester has an incredibly bright future, but his pitch counts also have to come down. He has to work deeper into games, as Terry Francona doesn't want to use the bullpen for four innings (or more) every time he pitches. High pitch counts aren't good for a rookie, and I know the Red Sox are careful about their prized lefthander.