Jon Lester entered this afternoon’s game against the Oakland Athletics with a 2-4 record and his team, the Boston Red Sox, with a record of 14-16, fourth place in the AL East. The defending World Series champions needed a big boost from their ace, and boy did Lester deliver and then some.
In what would be a 6-3 Red Sox victory, Lester pitched eight scoreless innings, throwing 119 pitches while only surrendering one hit, striking out 1, and walking only two batters. With a 6-0 lead entering the ninth inning, I’m sure the Red Sox and their fans held their breath as the bullpen gave up three runs to the Athletics in the but were able to stop the bleeding and hold on for the win.
With that brilliant pitching performance by Lester this afternoon, his record on the season now improves to 3-4 with an ERA of 2.59, meaning he is not getting the run support he needs in his starts. Today, however, the Red Sox were able to give Lester enough runs with six. It turned out to be barely enough, because if they scored any less than four, not only would Lester have gotten a no-decision, but the Red Sox could have lost the game.
With the Red Sox now moving up to third place in the AL East after the win today, they are now only two games in back of the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees for the top spot. So even with the slow start to the season, there is still more than enough time for the Red Sox to repeat as AL East champions come October.
In the long run, Lester’s performance today also shows why the Red Sox would be crazy not to extend his contract after this season and extend it long term. In Lester’s career, all with the Red Sox, he is 102-60 with a 3.74 ERA in the regular season. He’s also 6-4 with a 2.11 ERA in the playoffs and 3-0 with an ERA of an amazing 0.43 in World Series games alone, which has led to not one but twp Red Sox World Series championships. With being only 30 years of age and still looking like he has a lot left in the tank, the Red Sox would be crazy to not sign him long term and have him finish his career in Beantown.