The Red Sox will send struggling Jon Lester to the mound to take on Miguel Gonzalez in an attempt to earn a split of the four-game series Sunday at Camden Yards.
Lester, who is 6-3 on the year, is winless in his last five starts. During that span, the 29-year-old lefty has a 6.90 ERA with a .411 opponent on-base percentage. He also has allowed six home runs during the stretch, which is two more than he allowed in his first eight starts of the year.
His last start was a low point on the season for Lester, who allowed seven runs on eight hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings vs. the Rays. That start alone bumped his ERA up from 3.60 to where it currently sits at 4.12. It was a disappointing effort for Lester, and recognized that in his postgame comments.
“It’s just terrible. I did a terrible job of helping out our bullpen, I did a terrible job of keeping the ball down in the zone. The list goes on. This is solely on me. These guys count on me to go out there and throw innings, and I didn’t do that tonight. I just flat-out didn’t get it done,” Lester said. “I really let the bullpen, really let the team down. We needed a big start tonight, and I didn’t do it. Like I said, that solely rests on me. Nobody else.
“For lack of a better term, it’s [expletive] on my part,” he added. “Guys kept battling back, and every time they did, I gave it right back to them. It’s unacceptable. I’ve got to do a better job.”
However, if there is any pitcher on the Red Sox staff capable of handling major league leading home run hitter Chris Davis, it appears to be Lester. Davis is hitless with two strikeouts in 14 career plate appearances against Lester.
Gonzalez, who is 4-2 with a 3.71 ERA this season, has been stellar in his past two starts. The 29-year-old righty has pitched 14 innings in this two-game stretch, keeping a 1.29 ERA with 12 strikeouts and only two walks in back-to-back wins.
A former member of the Pawtucket Red Sox, Gonzalez signed a minor league deal with the Orioles in March 2012. He made his first major league start on July 6, 2012, as a 28-year-old and has an 11-6 record in his career. His pitching repertoire features two fastballs in the low 90s, low 80s changeup, a slider and a curveball. The changeup, which is his most effective pitch, has held opponents to a .200 average this season.
Gonzalez has a 2-1 record in his career against the Red Sox and won his last start in Boston, 4-2. Of the Red Sox players that have played against Gonzalez, Daniel Nava has had the most success with a double and two RBIs in four at-bats against him.
Red Sox vs. Gonzalez (RHP)
Dustin Pedroia (8 plate appearances): .250 BA/.250 OBP/.250 SLG, 1 RBI
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (6): .200/.333/.200, 1 walk
Daniel Nava (5): .500/.600/.750, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Jacoby Ellsbury (3): .333/.333/.667, 1 double, 1 RBI
Jose Iglesias (3): .333/.333/.333
David Ortiz (2): .000/.500/.000, 1 walk
Will Middlebrooks (1): .000/.000/.000
Mike Carp, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, David Ross and Shane Victorino have not faced Gonzalez.
Orioles vs. Lester (LHP)
Nick Markakis (58 plate appearances): .200 BA/.241 OBP/.291 SLG, 5 doubles, 3 walks, 1 RBI, 14 strikeouts
Adam Jones (49): .262/.367/.310, 2 doubles, 4 RBIs, 7 walks, 16 strikeouts
Matt Wieters (36): .382/.417/.529, 1 triple, 3 doubles, 7 RBIs, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
J.J. Hardy (16): .400/.438/.800, 1 home run, 1 triple, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Chris Davis (14): .000/.071/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Danny Valencia (9): .111/.111/.444, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 2 strikeouts
Alexi Casilla (8): .000/.250/.000, 2 walks
Steve Pearce (6): .000/.167/.000, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Nate McLouth (4): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Taylor Teagarden (4): .000/.000/.000, 4 strikeouts
Manny Machado (3): .000/.000/.000
Chris Dickerson and Ryan Flaherty have not faced Lester.