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News » Red Sox-Mariners Preview 2009-05-15


Red Sox-Mariners Preview 2009-05-15


Red Sox-Mariners Preview 2009-05-15
The start to Jon Lester's 2009 season hasn't gone according to plan, and he's searching for something to get him back on track.

A trip to his home state and a start against the struggling Seattle Mariners both could qualify.

Lester will try to snap out of his funk on Friday night as the Boston Red Sox open their only series of the year at Safeco Field, where the Mariners will be looking to avoid their 10th loss in 11 games.

Coming off a breakout season that included 16 wins and a no-hitter, expectations were high for Lester this year. Instead, the left-hander has been unable to find a groove, with opponents hitting .310 against him.

There weren't many positive signs Saturday against Tampa Bay, as Lester (2-3, 6.31 ERA) allowed a career-high eight runs in a season-low 4 1-3 innings of the 14-5 loss.

"I don't really know what to say," Lester told the Red Sox's official Web site. "Try to shake it off. I don't think there are a whole lot of adjustments that need to be done."

On July 21, the Puyallup, Wash., native threw the ball especially well near his hometown, where he also underwent treatments for non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2006-07. He scattered eight hits over 7 1-3 innings without a walk in Boston's 4-0 win.

"It's nice to come back home and pitch halfway decent," said Lester, who's 1-0 with a 4.67 ERA in three career starts against the Mariners, all at Safeco.

Boston (21-14) could use a lengthy start from Lester after Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez and Jonathan Papelbon all pitched at least an inning in a 5-4, 12-inning loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday. The bullpen has saved the Red Sox's starters, who are last in the AL with a 5.90 ERA.

Against Seattle, Lester should have a chance. The Mariners (16-19) have scored two or fewer runs in six of their last nine games, including a 3-2 loss to Texas on Thursday.

After ace Felix Hernandez pitched seven shutout innings, Seattle led 2-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning before closer Brandon Morrow blew a save for the second straight day.

"It was a tough two days," Morrow said. "We should have won the series, but because of two-thirds of an inning ... it's tough to swallow."

The Mariners finished their road trip at 1-7 after dropping the final two games of their previous homestand. They've been outscored 64-28 in their last 10 games.

Boston's problems pale in comparison, but the Red Sox weren't thrilled after squandering a number of chances Thursday in their second straight defeat.

While reigning AL MVP Dustin Pedroia had four hits in his return from a groin injury and Julio Lugo had five hits, once-mighty slugger David Ortiz went 0 for 7 and stranded 12 runners as his average fell to .208. He still hasn't homered this year after totaling 231 in six seasons with Boston.

"We're pulling for him," Pedroia said. "Hopefully, the corner is right there and he's going to turn it."

Overall, Boston's offense has slowed, scoring four runs in four straight games. Kevin Youkilis, the club's leader with a .393 average, is on the disabled list with an oblique strain.

Facing struggling rookie right-hander Chris Jakubauskas may help. Jakubauskas (1-4, 7.67) gave up nine runs and three homers in 4 1-3 innings of Seattle's 11-0 loss at Minnesota last Friday.

Boston won its last five games against the Mariners last year, including a three-game sweep in Seattle.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 15, 2009

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