(Photo by Sam)
It really doesn't matter who the player is -- seeing someone struck on a baseball field by the ball, another person, or a piece of broken bat and go down like a ton of bricks is always a terrible experience. One second, we're all shaking our fists at the television, cursing Lester's slow start at the Stadium, and the next, none of that matters one bit.
It was just yesterday that it was reported Lester will start Game 1 in the playoffs rather than Josh Beckett. Then suddenly, as the replay loop of the ball striking next to Lester's right knee and boomeranging back toward home plate at a sickening angle began to play, all of that seemed in doubt.
But to me, it was more than that. The attachment to Jon Lester is deeper and more personal than for many other players among Sox fans, a feeling embodied perfectly by the way Tito gently touched his head, then shoulders, once Lester was on his feet again, as if he were his own child.
I had tears in my eyes watching Lester roll around next to the mound and grimace in agony, clutching his knee. Nobody wants to see that with any player--but with Lester, our homegrown boy, our survivor, seeing him in that kind of pain was especially cruel.
Thankfully Lester was helped to his feet and was able to limp off the field under his own power, though a trainer kept that symbolic and protective hand on him at all times, and Big Papi immediately abandoned his seat on the bench to follow Lester down the tunnel -- quite literally, the heart and soul of the team left with him.
After that, September callup Hunter Jones was tapped, gulped, and was thrown to the wolves of the Yankees lineup, promptly tacking on two more runs before the inning was even finished. 5-0 Yankees with our starter literally knocked out in the bottom of the third. The rest was a foregone conclusion.
I don't know what it is about the Red Sox and Yankees since the All-Star Break. All I know is, the Sox will seem to get hot elsewhere, and then run into the Yankees like a brick wall, and that trend continued with this game.
Last night, though, it only added insult to a much more important injury. To be honest, once Lester left, I was pretty much shot for the night. It was hard to pay attention after that. And just as well I didn't -- Boston was soundly defeated, 9-5.
Thankfully, it's been reported since that Lester has a deep contusion (bruise) in his right quadriceps, no bone involvement, and may not even miss a start. However, it's not as if his performance hadn't been worrisome before this happened; the moment he got hit, he was standing on the mound down three runs and with the bases loaded. Now he's lucky to have escaped a broken kneecap in his plant leg -- and a thousand new question marks about the 2009 postseason for the Sox just sprang up overnight.