Every Sox fan held their breath last night when Jon Lester took the mound. Was he back to 100%? Could he be the pitcher Boston needs him to be in the post-season?
Breathe easy, friends. Breathe easy.
Jon Lester looked flat-out awesome last night in Boston's 3-0 win over the Indians. 6.1 innings of two-hit ball with one walks, seven strikeouts and no runs. He was in control the whole night, hitting his spots and inducing weak contact from the Cleveland hitters. Lester was every inch the kind of guy you want starting Game One against the Angels next week.
Lester finishes the season at 15-8 with a 3.41 ERA and 225 strikeouts. He's Top 10 in the AL in wins (8th), strikeouts (3rd), WHIP (10th), ERA (3.41) and win percentage (.652). That's not enough to be a Cy front-runner, but he deserves a few votes for what was a very solid season.
The bullpen had a little redemption, with Bard, Wagner and Paps combining for 2.2 innings of walk-free and scoreless relief. If not for a walk surrendered by Bard, they'd have had a clean sheet. But that's a pointless complaint; the bottom line is that the bullpen looked good. If they can keep that up, you have to feel more confident about Boston's chances in the post-season.
Ellsbury continued to impress, going 3-5 with a run scored and his 68th steal of the year. V-Mart was 2-4 with a run scored, running his line with Boston to a .335 batting average and .902 OPS with a .404 OBP. So yeah, that trade worked out pretty well. And Youk went 1-3 with a run scored and a RBI. He's not quite at the level he reached last year when he won the Hank Aaron Award, most notably in RBI (115 last year, 92 so far this year). But he has scored more runs and actually has a higher OPS right now (.962 against .959 in 2008). So his production is still right up there. And to think he was only known for being the "Greek God of Walks" just four years ago. Now he generates some of the best year-to-year numbers in the game.
Tonight it's Daisuke against Jeremy Sowers. Sowers is 6-10 this year with a 5.09 ERA and the Sox have seen him once in 2009. Back in May, they hammered Sowers for seven runs and seven hits in five innings. Meanwhile, Daisuke is riding three straight good performances into tonight's game. He got saddled with a loss against the Yanks despite going seven innings and allowing just one run. Hopefully he can make it four good performances and keep the momentum going into the post-season.