Lately, Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox has been turning in more and more quality starts. Last night’s 7-0 performance against the San Francisco Giants was absolutely the shot in the arm that the Red Sox needed as they embarked on a crucial West Coast road trip. He is finally starting to look like the the top of the line starter that makes Red Sox Nation feel better about Boston’s chances in October as the regular season winds down.
Lester turned in a quality start, only giving up six hits and pitching a shutout over eight innings and came out for the ninth. Two of those hits from the Giants came at the start of the ninth inning as he retired the first nine Giants that he faced. It wasn’t a hugely dominating performance, striking out just three batters. However, who cares? The results are the same; a win is a win and Lester looked really good. Anytime that your pitcher who has been considered to be your ace pitches an eight inning shutout, one has to be very happy with that. Given the fact that he hadn’t won since July 28, Lester’s performance was much needed and extremely appreciated.
The Red Sox have been struggling lately, recently losing two out of three to the New York Yankees. The Tampa Bay Rays aren’t going anywhere and they are nipping at Boston’s heels, almost to the point where it is annoying. Boston needs some solid starting pitching, and Lester is just the guy who can deliver. This road trip can be really tough. Okay, the Giants aren’t doing well, but the West Coast always seems to bring out the worst in Boston. And considering the Red Sox played on Sunday night, got up Monday morning and flew to San Francisco to play that night, one certainly had to wonder if Boston would be too tired from such tough travel. Then they have to face what may be the hottest team this century, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
I had written previously that Boston didn’t seem to have a a clear-cut No. 1 starter. However, with six out of seven quality starts and the regular season getting down to crunch time, Lester has really seemed to step up his game, just when Boston needs him most. If he keeps pitching the way he has lately and Clay Buchholz can come back this season and be even somewhat like he was before the injury, a top three rotation of Lester, Buchholz and Jake Peavy could give other teams a lot of problems in a playoff series.
If Lester keeps it going, Boston’s chances in October may be looking a little bit brighter.