Jon Lester vs. Masahiro Tanaka Proved to Be Telling
In a duel of aces, the Boston Red Sox earned a much-needed win over the New York Yankees. Seemingly, every time the Red Sox do get a well-earned victory, it begs the question of could this be the game that puts Boston in a groove for sustained consistency? This meeting of the bitter rivals was decided on the mound as Jon Lester out-matched Masahiro Tanaka. Each pitcher was on his A-game, and in the end two developing signs continued to show through for each hurler.
As June comes to a close, that consistency is still missing for the champs. It is also just Boston’s third win in nine meetings on the year against the evil empire, and still keeps the Red Sox more than a half dozen games back in the races. Boston does eventually need to flip the switch if it hopes to defend its crown come fall.
For Lester, he continues to go out and pitch like an ace for the Red Sox. While his record may not indicate it, Lester has had a solid year for Boston. When at times the rotation is struggling, Lester has been able to come up with that big-time start to save the day. To provide a spark, Lester has won three decisions in a row, and in his last four starts has yielded just four earned runs. He just continues to make a case as to why Boston should lock him up long-term sooner rather than later.
On New York’s side, there could be questions raised, or at least a game plan developing for teams facing Tanaka on the year. There is a concerning trend as Tanaka starts to see teams multiple times now. While the strikeouts will always be there, Tanaka is also vulnerable to giving up the home run ball.
This season, Boston is now the fourth team to face Tanaka a second time. In those four games, Tanaka has lost three of those meetings. That accounts for all of his defeats this season. In those games, he has allowed 26 hits, four long balls and nine earned runs. While it is still a small sample size, it could start to raise eyebrows in New York; Tanaka has now also lost two games in a row for the first time in the big leagues.
The AL East could still very well come down to the Red Sox and Yankees once again. Lester and Tanaka will likely play huge roles going down the stretch for their clubs.
Nick Schaeflein is a Sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.
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