The Rays jumped all over Jon Lester in this one and cruised to an easy 7-3 victory.
I don't know what got into Lester tonight, but he was bad. Yanked after 4 innings bad. Surrendered a grand slam to Matt Joyce bad (not that Joyce is bad, but giving up 4-run homers certainly is). What makes it worse was that two of the three runners on base for that grand slam were walked by Lester. The strike zone was tight (there were a total of 11 walks by both teams), but those runs are on Lester. Then, just to let you know how truly off his game he was, he gave up back-to-back home runs in the next inning to Johnson (a two-run shot) and Carlos Pena. Byrd may have been able to get Pena's blast, but about 6 Sox fans fought him for the ball in right. Byrd was pissed, and the fan that ended up with the ball looked terrified for his life.
Thanks to the 7-1 hole Lester dug for them, the Sox bats half-heartedly tried to get back in the game. Youk, Gonzalez, Byrd and Podsednik were the only Sox batters to get a hit (1 each). Youk, Gonzo, Byrd and Aviles each got an RBI. Papi went 0-3 with 2 walks, lowering his average down to .310. Although, to his credit, he would have had at least one hit had the Rays not been playing 7 guys in right field. He really needs to start hitting the ball to left again. He made it look so easy in April, not sure why he can't do it now.
However, tthe Sox bullpen continues to be something to get excited about. Atchison dominated the Rays for 3 full innings, and his ERA now stands at 1.00 on the season. Albers and Morales finished the game by pitching a hitless inning each (Morales had two strikeouts).
Oh, there was also a bench-clearing "brawl" tonight. And by "brawl" I mean a lot of guys in red jerseys shouting and pointing fingers at guys in gray jerseys. Pedroia got hit by a pitch in the 6th and, to retaliate, Morales (after a few tries) managed to nail Luke Scott in the back of the knee. Scott and Salty did a little shoving as the dugouts cleared but it was pretty lame. Scott was pissed. Papi looked like he wanted to hit somebody. Morales looked like he wanted to cry. No players were really into it. The coaches? That was a different story. Bogar wanted blood. McClure's was like a rabid dog, trying to bite Carlos Pena's face off. The Rays coaches were flipping out. Bobby V even got into the middle of it. Not sure I've ever seen the coaches more into the fray than the players before.
So, that happened, and you can be damn sure the Rays will want vengance for the Sox retaliation of the Rays plunking Pedroia. Which was retaliation for the Sox beaning... well, you get the story. It's the retaliation that never ends. I love baseball.