Jon Lester Has The KC Royals' Number...Boston 1 KC 0
Jon Lester is quite simply white hot, on fire in every way imaginable. In his last eight starts, no team has scored more than three runs off him and he has a 5-1 record with a ridiculous ERA of 1.48 and 69 strikeouts in only 54 innings. Wow! What a perfect complement to Josh Beckett. The best one-two punch in baseball? Quite possibly.
Last night at Fenway Park, he threw eight shutout innings without allowing a Royals runner to get anywhere near the plate in Boston's 1-0 win, a victory that gave them sole possesion of first place coupled with the Yankee loss. He routinely hit 97 MPH on his fastball and collected eight strikeouts. His manager, Terry Francona, had this to say about his young star...
“Lester’s grown into being that guy,” said manager Terry Francona. “I think we’ve always seen that. He understood what was going on there. There wasn’t going to be a whole lot of offense. Bannister was keeping us in knots.”
Here's Jon himself...
“I think my stuff is a lot better, velocity-wise, command-wise,” he said. “In May of last year, I was throwing 91-92, or maybe 93-94 if I got on it. Obviously this year I’m a little stronger and further away from treatment. It seems like the further and further I get, the better I feel.”
And who better to speak than the guy who does the catching and calls the pitches...
“He’s a boy growing into a man,” Varitek said. “He’s done that over the last few years. Just look at him. He’s a big boy. He’s a big freaking boy. After he had battled through what he had battled through three years ago, he’s gotten a lot stronger and grown into his frame.”
An eighth inning double by Dustin Pedroia and a possible game-saving catch and throw double play by Rocco Baldelli, who came in to play center after Jacoby Ellsbury was tossed from the game for arguing a close call at the plate, a call that the umpire blew, pure and simple, were essential parts of this sweet Red Sox victory. They are in sole possession of first place after Jaba the Yankee imploded last night. Boy, the pinstripers could utilize him much more effectively in their beleagured bullpen but I won't say anything. There are two games left before the much-needed All Star break and I think Boston will win 'em both. This afternoon it'll be Gil Meche facing John Smoltz, who will be fervently trying to avoid the big inning. One of these starts, he going to put it ALL together for six or seven innings and Red Sox Nation and Red Sox International will rejoice.
I hope every one of you has a wonderful weekend. You can click on the title of this post for more on the Boston Red Sox. I'll see you soon and as always, BE WELL.