Red Sox Notebook

Lester had good stuff but not great results

By Amalie Benjamin and Adam Kilgore
Globe Staff / April 25, 2009
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By the time the magic happened, Jon Lester had changed into street clothes. Not wanting to put his uniform back on, he stayed in the clubhouse for the first home run, by Jason Bay, and the second, by Kevin Youkilis. Lester's contribution to the game had ended much earlier, and without nearly as much drama.

He managed to get down the tunnel in time to share the joy of Youkilis's walkoff blast in the 11th inning - if not the jumping around at the plate - with a few high-fives for his teammates. But his pitching, a night of good stuff and poor efficiency, had ended five innings earlier.

"I thought I had pretty good stuff tonight, but I don't think I let it play in the zone as much as I should have," Lester said. "I think I could have attacked hitters a little more, then I got into a mode, nitpicking quite a bit, and I was trying to make the perfect pitch instead of just going after guys and letting the ball play. It got me into some deep counts and obviously got the pitch count up."

Such as in a third-inning at-bat by Johnny Damon that resulted in a single.

"Instead of just going right back after him 0-2, I started nitpicking around and trying to do stuff that we normally don't do," said Lester. "That's my fault, not [Jason Varitek's] fault at all. I've got to do a better job of executing pitches. Once I get a guy 0-2, I've got really two shots there to throw pitches out of the zone to see if he chases them, and if he doesn't to go right back in the zone and see if we can get him out that way."

Lester got through six innings in 114 pitches. He allowed at least one base runner in each inning, the two runs he yielded coming in the fourth on an RBI double down the third base line by Cody Ransom and an RBI ground out by Derek Jeter.

"His stuff was tremendous," manager Terry Francona said. "To their credit, they never left the strike zone with him."

Working it out
Rocco Baldelli worked out for the first time yesterday since being placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained left hamstring. Baldelli played catch and took some swings, and afterward said, "It's feeling better every day."

Baldelli wants to take his rehab slow, a sentiment echoed by Francona, and he's unsure of his schedule or if he will play in a minor league game before his return.

"It doesn't have anything to do with a lot of the problems I was dealing with last year," Baldelli said. "It doesn't have anything to do with fatigue."

Baldelli hurt his hamstring chasing down a double in the right-field corner two weeks ago in Anaheim. He felt it worsen while playing center field during the next series in Oakland, and aggravated it against the Orioles to the point where he needed time off.

"I'm obviously disappointed," he said. "I felt pretty good in spring training - I won't lie, I felt really good."

Planning a trip
Julio Lugo (knee surgery), who is rehabbing with Pawtucket until tomorrow, could be activated on the upcoming road trip. "He'll join us in Cleveland and either join us or we'll go from there," Francona said. "I think we need to see him play this weekend." Lugo played Wednesday night for the PawSox, going 0 for 3 with three strikeouts and a walk, and again last night. His replacement, Nick Green, is coming off a season in which he played for the Yankees' Triple A club in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. But Green and the Yankees - who could have had the .333-hitting Green instead of the .180-hitting Ransom playing third base in Alex Rodriguez's absence - didn't get together in the offseason. "We didn't even go there," Green said. "Cody did well last year. We didn't even try." . . . Mark Kotsay (back) has rejoined the team, and will remain with the club through the weekend. When the Sox head out on the road Monday, Kotsay will stay behind, and the team will "arrange some baseball stuff with him," Francona said. Kotsay might be ready for a rehab stint with the PawSox when they return from a road trip Thursday. "I think the most stressful thing on the back is swinging, and we've gotten to a point where I feel like I've gotten my power back," Kotsay said. "Now it's just kind of going to that competitive environment, seeing how things respond." . . . Jed Lowrie will get his stitches out Friday after having surgery on his left wrist Tuesday. The shortstop will rejoin the team in Tampa.

Gab session
Francona weighed in on the reacquisition of Kason Gabbard from the Rangers. Gabbard went 4-0 with a 3.73 ERA for the Sox in 2007, was shipped to Texas in the Eric Gagné deal, and was reacquired for cash considerations. "I'm thrilled," Francona said. "I know he's had a tough time. I know there's been some rocky starts for him. But I think he's excited. We loved him. He's had a lot of injuries while he was coming up through the minor leagues. He pitched his way into the big leagues, and when he came here, he kind of had [Curt Schilling's] starts, and he ran off some wins for us." Gabbard was sent to extended spring training . . . Each of the last two games between the Sox and Yankees has ended in walkoff fashion, with Jonathan Van Every winning the game Sept. 28 with a single in the 10th . . . The last walkoff homer for the Sox against the Yankees prior to last night was Bill Mueller's July 24, 2004, when he hit a two-run shot in the ninth inning off Mariano Rivera . . . Green had his third consecutive multihit game and fifth of the season. He's hitting .357 during the Sox' eight-game winning streak. Six of his 10 hits in that span have gone for extra bases.

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