Thursday’s Red Sox-Royals matchups: Jon Lester vs. Bruce Chen

August 08, 2013 - 7:42 am

The latest episode in the up-and-down drama that is Jon Lester'€™s 2013 season will come Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium, when he gets the ball to take on left-hander Bruce Chen and the Royals as the teams open a four-game series. Lester (10-6, 4.52 ERA) will be looking to rebound from an ugly outing against the Diamondbacks on Friday, when he gave up six runs on 11 hits in just 4 1/3 innings during what amounted to a 7-6 Red Sox loss. The left-hander gave up two in a 26-pitch first and another in the third, but seemed to have settled down '€” retiring seven in a row, four via strikeout '€” until Arizona touched him up for three more runs in the fifth. The loss was particularly disheartening because Lester, who has largely struggled in 2013, was fresh off three consecutive quality starts capped by seven innings of shutout ball against the Orioles to end his July. The problem, according to Lester, was simple. '€œFastball was up. Cutter was up. Changeup was up,'€ Lester said afterward. '€œThe adjustments don'€™t matter if you don'€™t get the ball down. There were obviously a lot of fly balls here tonight that, the past three or four starts, haven'€™t been there.'€ Lester'€™s history against Kansas City, however, could bode well for his results Thursday night. He is 6-2 with a 1.64 ERA all-time against the Royals. Kansas City and Lester have not matched up so far this year, but in 2012 he allowed four earned runs in 12 innings in a pair of starts. The seemingly ageless Chen, meanwhile, has posted a 2.03 ERA and 1.09 WHIP '€” both on pace to be the best numbers of his 15-year career '€” in 23 games, only four of which have been starts. Since moving to the rotation shortly before the All-Star break, Chen has allowed a total of four earned runs while fanning 21 and going exactly six innings in each of his four starts. Interestingly, three of the four have featured he yielding a home run. Chen'€™s only outing against Boston this season came April 21, when he retired Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia but gave up singles to Daniel Nava and David Ortiz. Red Sox vs. Chen (LHP) David Ortiz (31 plate appearances): .280 BA/.355 OPB/.440 SLG, 1 double, 1 home run, 8 RBIs, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts Jonny Gomes (22): .238/.273/.571, 1 double, 2 home runs, 3 RBIs, 7 strikeouts Dustin Pedroia (12): .455/.417/.909, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 strikeout Mike Napoli (11): .091/.091/.364, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts Jacoby Ellsbury (9): .375/.444/.750, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 walk Jarrod Saltalamacchia (6): .167/.167/.333, 1 double, 3 strikeouts Mike Carp (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts Ryan Lavarnway (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout Brandon Snyder (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts Daniel Nava singled in his only plate appearance against Chen. Stephen Drew, Brock Holt and Shane Victorino have never faced Chen. Royals vs. Lester (LHP) Billy Butler (21 plate appearances): .235 BA/.381 OBP/.294 SLG, 1 double, 1 RBI, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts Miguel Tejada (21): .278/.333/.278, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 1 strikeout Alex Gordon (16): .133/.188/.200, 1 double, 1 RBI, 7 strikeouts Alcides Escobar (10): .143/.400, .286, 1 double, 1 RBI, 3 walks Eric Hosmer (9): .500/.667/1.000, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 3 walks, 1 strikeout Elliot Johnson (7): .286/.286/.714, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 strikeout Mike Moustakas (6): .250/.500/.250, 1 RBI, 2 walks Lorenzo Cain (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 strikeout Jarrod Dyson (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout George Kottaras (3): .333/.333/1.333, 1 home run, 1 RBI Brett Hayes, David Lough and Justin Maxwell have never faced Lester.