With less than two weeks to go in camp, Boston Red Sox lefty Jon Lester is already firing on all cylinders. The Red Sox projected opening day starter was perfect in six innings against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, lowering his spring ERA to a remarkable 0.90.
Lester, starting his fifth Grapefruit League game, made quick work of the Rays, retiring all 18 batters that he faced, walking none and striking out six along the way. The 29-year-old is hoping to rebound from his worst season in the majors to date.
Last year was an absolute disaster for Lester (as well as the Red Sox), as he posted the first losing season of his career (9-14). By all accounts, he’s come to spring training with a chip on his shoulder, looking to prove to the Red Sox that he hasn’t lost the drive that led him to a 19-9 record just three seasons ago.
Through his first four starts this spring, Lester had been virtually unhittable, but he made that phrase literal on Sunday with his perfect performance. All total, the eight-year veteran is 4-0 and has given up just two runs on six hits in 20 innings. He’s struck out 16 batters, while walking only four.
Historically a slow starter, Lester hopes 2013 will break the trend as the Red Sox try to get back into the playoffs for the first time since being swept in the 2009 LDS.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)