Lester Hit Hard, Rangers Practice Home Run Derby Cruising to 18-3 Victory

Jon Lester has been one of the most consistent pitchers for the Red Sox the past few seasons. The past two years have brought Opening Day honors to the lefty. While the team was off to a slow start, Lester turned in two solid outings, each good enough to deserve the win under normal circumstances. That Jon Lester did not take the mound against the Rangers. The Lester who did had trouble locating his pitches and finding the strike zone. By the third inning, Lester would give way to the bullpen and the damage would really start to accumulate as the Rangers scored 18 runs, including six home runs on the way to their fifth straight win.

The Rangers, one of the strongest offensive clubs in the American League, went to work early with leadoff man Ian Kinsler getting a hit to start the game. Lester would limit first inning damage to hits and watch Dustin Pedroia’s laser show in the bottom of the inning put his team up 2-0 over Colby Lewis. That would be about it for good news.

The Rangers would score 4 runs in the second inning and 3 more in the third, chasing Lester from the game. Scott Atchison allowed two baserunners of Lester’s to score and one of his own in the third inning, but went on to pitch three more clean frames and, along with Matt Albers, keeping the score at a reasonably close 8-2 through the seventh inning.

Mark Melancon would change all of that. In an effort that makes Alfredo Aceves’ first appearance look downright brilliant, Melancon faced six batters in the eighth inning and failed to record an out. What he did do was allow towering home runs to Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, and Nelson Cruz as part of an 8-run eighth for Texas. ESPN reports that “Melancon is just the 8th pitcher in last 90 years to allow 3 HR without recording an out.” Not quite the history the Red Sox wanted to celebrate at Fenway Park this week.

Adrian Gonzalez would chip in with a home run of his own in the bottom of the inning but that was the only sign of the Red Sox bats since Dustin Pedroia’s blast many innings earlier. To add final insult to injury, Mike Napoli added a two-run shot in the ninth off Vincente Padilla, who filled the role usually occupied by a position player in these types of blowouts.

Sox Stud of the Game: Dustin Pedroia

Laser show. La luna. It doesn’t matter. The second baseman hits the ball, catches it, and defends Kevin Youkilis in a single bound.

Sox Dud of the Game: Jon Lester

Lester didn’t have his best stuff tonight and against a powerful Rangers lineup it came back to bite him. Hard.

Game Notes:

W: Colby Lewis (2-0) L: Jon Lester (0-2)

The performance of Lewis lost in this story. Striking out seven while walking one and allowing just two runs to score early in the game, Lewis set the tone for the Rangers and the bats helped him to sail.

Sellout Streak: The End is Nigh

The Boston Red Sox have been the hot ticket for nearly a decade now: the team has sold out every home game since May 15, 2003. The total surpassed 700 consecutive games in 2011 but was not a guarantee to continue through 2012.

September’s collapse, combined with the departures of Theo Epstein and Terry Francona, the large amounts of money tied up in the so-far disappointing John Lackey, Carl Crawford, and a two seasons watching the playoffs on TV left fans without much to look forward to in 2012 besides a rebound. The excitement the preceded 2011 was nowhere to be found.

Watch any NESN broadcast and they are pimping tickets like made during commercials. A few years ago it was necessary to be a member of Red Sox Nation, Rem Dog Nation, Hot Dog Nation and more to get the latest word on when tickets MIGHT be available (at face value – always tons on Stubhub) for even the lowliest of games.

Today marks what is likely the end of the sellout streak: A Google Offer for Red Sox tickets:

Google Offer Red Sox

This doesn’t mean the streak will end, but the Red Sox are getting having to sell tickets during the season that used to sell out in December and January.

The last night of the Red Sox Dynasty may have been Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS, but the magical run the team has been on since 2003 will end for good when the sellout streak finally bites the dust.