Jon Lester had made two starts at Fenway Park in 2012. And he hadn't fared too well in them going 0-1 with an 11.25 ERA (10 ER/8 IP).
That all changed on Monday night against the Seattle Mariners as the offense backed up his 119 pitch complete game effort in a 6-1 win.
For one, he was the first Red Sox starting pitcher to make it into the 9th inning let alone pitch a complete game. And he did it looking like a version of his former younger self.
He had great command and location on all of his pitches. He had gotten in trouble in previous starts when he got cutter happy. He barely broke out the cutter, instead relying on on his fastball, curve and changeup. Obviously all of his pitches were outstanding but his curve was second to none last night. With all of his pitches, he got 14 swing and misses.
Lester had great life on his fastball as he kept it consistently at 93-94 the entire night. He set down the first 11 batters he faced before Ichiro Suzuki reached base on an infield single that went off of Lester's glove. He would end up scattering eight hits over the nine innings, seven of which were singles. He struck out six and didn't walk anyone.
The only run he allowed didn't come until the 9th inning. It also was his first complete game since June 27, 2010 and he now leads the Red Sox starters with a 3.73 ERA. It was also the fourth straight quality start from the Red Sox starters.
Simply put, Lester looked the ace that we all know he is and can be when all things are clicking.
Of course it helped when the offense got him an early lead.
After a Dustin Pedroia one out walk in the 1st, David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez followed with back-to-back run scoring doubles to put the local nine up front 2-0. They would add three more runs in the 4th when Daniel Nava hit a two-run homer and Kelly Shoppach added a solo shot. A Marlon Byrd sacrifice fly brought in Will Middlebrooks in the 8th for the final run the Red Sox would score.
With the way Lester was pitching last night, the only runs the Red Sox really needed were the ones in the first. And you know the bullpen guys were happy since they all got a night off with some rest that was needed despite the string of four straight quality starts by the starters.
Nava continued his tear at getting on base as he went 1-for-2 with two walks. The second walk he took was,get this, an intentional walk. Yes Nava was intentionally walked. That happens when your OBP is at .750.
Cody Ross and Kelly Shoppach both had two hits while Dustin Pedroia saw his 14 game hitting streak come to an end.
Josh Beckett will take to the mound tonight for the Red Sox and we can only hope that it goes better than his last start when he was booed off the Fenway Park mound. Given that his fellow starters have had those four straight quality starts, something tells me that Beckett will be at his best.
As fans we can only hope that or you know that the Fenway Faithful will boo him off the mound once again. Plus, all three facets are clicking for the Red Sox right now and you know he doesn't want to be the one who puts a blip in the radar.
We'll be back later with today's lineups, batter/pitcher matchups and links from the day. So for now, let's take at look at the overnight links from the media by clicking on the read more button below if you're on the home page.
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Lester shuts door on the Mariners [Boston Globe]
Hot corner heating up [Boston Globe]
They had grand similarities [Boston Globe]
Red Sox in complete control [Boston Herald]
Daniel Nava not being left out [Boston Herald]
Jon Lester superb with Kelly Shoppach [Boston Herald]
Decision day looming [Boston Herald]
Lester goes the distance, Sox win 6-1 [CSN New England]
Lester's gem just what the Red Sox ordered [CSN New England]
Nava breaks homerless streak with two-run shot in fourth [CSN New England]
Crawford: Hamilton's success no surprise [ESPN Boston]
Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 6, Mariners 1 [ESPN Boston]
Lester turns in vintage performance vs. Mariners [RedSox.com]
Ellsbury building strength in injured shoulder [RedSox.com]
Cook throwing, but stitches remain in knee [RedSox.com]
Consul General of Japan gives Sox cherry tree [RedSox.com]
Nava making strong second impression [RedSox.com]
Youkilis swings bat, could return on road trip [RedSox.com]
Cook throws three simulated innings [Alex Speier - WEEI.com]
Still the one: Jon Lester's season has a familiar top-of-the-rotation shape [Alex Speier - WEEI.com]
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