Jon Lester, The True 2008 Boston Red Sox ACE...Boston 12 Oakland 2
Jon Lester, on the rebound trail from a successful and complete recovery from cancer, pitched seven strong innings to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 12-2 victory over the light-hitting A's of Oakland. After a tough 2 run first inning and a visit from pitching coach John Farrell, Lester settled down wonderfully and improved his career record to 13-0 in his 13 starts when he has pitched seven innings or more. Not bad, Jon. Right now I consider him the true ace of the pitching staff. Overall, he is 10-3 with a sparkling 3.14 ERA.
The A's almost had Lester on the ropes in the first inning, an inning that he gave up four hits and two runs. But it was "shut 'em up and shut 'em down" time after that, and he proved he was up to the task, only surrendering three hits the rest of the way. Masterson pitched a clean 8th and Chris Smith did the same thing in the 9th and final frame. Lester had this to say after the festivities...
"I had a rough first inning and guys come out and swing the bat really well," Lester said. "It was nice to have a break between innings and then come out and have a nice cushion."
Peter here, and it wasn't just a nice cushion. Lester began to attack the strike zone with a variety of stuff, he didn't leave any pitches up in the zone and he took advantage of the feeble Oakland offense. And the Red Sox offense sans Manny was just fine, thank you. They banged out 14 hits in a multi-faceted attack. Jason Bay continued to make a tremendous impression on the Fenway Faithful when he clubbed a first inning three run home run, and those runs would be all Boston would need. Of course, it was nice that nine more Boston runs crossed the plate. Kevin Youkilis, by far the best first baseman, offensively and defensively, in all of Major League Baseball, clubbed two home runs and was the hitting star of the game. Mike Lowell was back with a strained right hip flexor...there's not much that can be done about that except to ride out the pain and maybe take a shot that could calm the area. But he looked darn good last night! He is a Boston guy who would be tough to lose, tougher than Manny. Why? He doesn't QUIT ON HIS TEAM.
So the Red Sox are 2-0 since Manny went to the left coast. Ramirez hit his first NL home run last night in a 4-2 Dodgers' victory. Good for him. Will he get a haircut or will Joe Torre relax his "dress code?" He has hinted that he will, but that's not important, not to me. The big story was a story of three...Jon Lester's continued and prolonged newfound dominance, Kevin Youkilis and his renewed and steady power hitting, and Mr. Jason Bay, who is finding Fenway Park's leftfield an easy place to play compared to the expanded National League outfields. And the AL pitchers seem to be to his liking, too. We are SO happy to have him. He's looked great at the plate AND in the field, protecting the Green Monster as if it was his own. For now, and maybe a long time, IT IS!
Click on the title for more on Saturday's second win in a row. Daisuke Matsuzaka goes this afternoon against lefty Dallas Braden, who has never faced the Sox before. Daisuke had a rough outing in his last start, but if he can't go seven innings against THIS lineup, well, something is not right. If he has his control today, he will not be beaten. First pitch time is 1:35pm EDT. Click on the title of this post for more on the latest Boston win, and as always, BE WELL. GO SOX.