Lester Nearly Perfect as Sox Bash Twins

Jon Lester set down 27 of 28 Toronto batters, and the Sox lineup put up some late runs as the Boston Red Sox took the first game against the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-0.  It was a nice bounce-back performance for Lester, who had previously factored in no-decisions his last two times out, allowing 11 hits five walks and nine runs – The Red Sox would lose both of those games in late innings.

Boston put up the first run, and the only one Lester would need, in the second inning.  After a Daniel Nava walk, Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled to right, with Nava making it to third.  Will Middlebrooks grounded to shortstop Maicer Izturis, who had to range to come up with the ball, but his attempt at starting a double-play fell apart when his throw to second baseman Mark DeRosa was too low and popped out of his glove, all this while Nava sprinted home.

On the other side of things, Jon Lester was cruising along with very little effort against an ice-cold Blue Jays team that continues to struggle.  He set down the first 17 Jays batters in succession, and with no walks or errors (miraculously so by a suddenly iron-gloved Red Sox defense), Lester was staring down his first perfect game, and second no-hitter of his career.  With two outs in the sixth, Maicer Izturis lined the first pitch he saw down the left-field line, and just past a lunging Middlebrooks, for a double and the end of potential history (don’t worry Jordan’s Furniture consumers, the free-furniture promotion doesn’t begin until July 17th).  Salty came to the mound to calm Lester as the crowd of just under 34,000 came to their feet to ofer their appreciation of a magnificent performance. Pinch-hitter Adam Lind would strike out swinging to end the threat.

While Lester was very humble about the possibility of the perfecto, his catcher was thinking about the changeup that led to the hit long after the last out of the game.

“As soon as the game was over I started thinking about it,” said Saltalamacchia. “Changeup, first pitch. I’m going to have nightmares about it to be honest with you.”

Lost in the glamour of Lester’s performance was Toronto’s veteran righty, 39 year-old Ramon Ortiz, who limited the Red Sox to just one run through five innings, despite allowing five walks – largely aided by two inning-ending double-plays.  Brett Cecil relieved Ortiz and pitched a scoreless sixth before Boston finally found their bats going into the seventh.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino singled leading off the seventh, and advanced on a wild-pitch by Cecil.  Dustin Pedroia would bring home the Sox insurance on a single that short-hopped in front of Toronto right-fielder Jose Bautista.  After back-to-back strikeouts of David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava and Jarrod Salatalamacchia came through on consecutive doubles to score the final three runs for the Sox, and gather a 5-0 lead.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia watches the flight of his two-out RBI double in the 7th.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia watches the flight of his two-out RBI double in the 7th.

That would be all Lester needed and more, as he did not allow another baserunner after the Izturis double.  Lester notched just five strikeouts in this one, but the last one to Adam Lind ended the game, and put the Red Sox back on a winning track.  After the game, Lester didn’t seem to be lamenting the double that got away,

“The no-hitter, perfect game, all that stuff, the stars got to be perfectly aligned for you,” Lester said.

The Sox kept pace with the victorious New York Yankees in the crowded American League East, with a virtual tie that has the Yanks just percentage points ahead.  Clay Buchholz will try again for his seventh win this afternoon against the very disappointing Mark Buehrle.

Inside the Game

– On the homestand, David Ortiz is just 2-21 without an RBI and has dropped his average from .440 down to a still impressive .338

– Despite many fans frustrations at Jarrod Saltalamacchia, he is in one of his hot streaks, going 7-14, with three doubles and a home run on the homestand

-Since his return, Shanve Victorino has picked up where he left off, going 10-28 with two home runs, and four multi-hit games (including three in a row.)

-Jon Lester improved to 13-7 career against the Blue Jays, only the Orioles have been victimized more by Lester (14-1 record).  In fact, of Lester’s four career outings allowing just one hit over at least seven innings, three have come against Toronto.

– Toronto drops to 13-24.  Only the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins have worse records in MLB.

– Before the game, it was announced that Joel Hanrahan would miss the remainder of the 2013 season as he undergoes surgery on a torn flexor tendon in his throwing arm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: