Elsa - Getty Images
Boston's ace hurler finishes up a year in which he doesn't look that way by exiting with an injury.
Jon Lester says he's fine now, but his back was giving him a bit of trouble before and at the end of Tuesday's contest against the New York Yankees. He ended up exiting after five frames when his back acted up during that inning, despite throwing just 83 pitches, but Lester made sure to point out that his back wasn't still bothering him by the time the game was over. That's the thing with back spasms -- they're intermittent, and hard to predict.
Lester scattered eight hits and allowed just the one run, and did so without getting the outs on his own. The left-handed struck out just one hitter, but also handed out just the one free pass. Boston -- and Lester -- were in line for a win until Andrew Bailey allowed a pinch-hit two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to Raul IBanez. If Lester had stuck around and continued to pitch well, it wouldn't have changed the outcome of the contest, as the bridge between Lester and Bailey -- Rich Hill, Junichi Tazawa, and Craig Breslow -- combined for three scoreless innings, as well as three strikeouts and no walks. And Lester wasn't getting through eight with his pitch count.
This closes up the most disappointing campaign of Lester's career, one in which he posted his worst ERA over a full season. There were encouraging signs in the last third of the season, though, with Lester posting a 4.02 ERA over his last 13 starts, tossing 85 innings (about 6-2/3 per start), striking out seven per nine, and posting a 2.2 K/BB. Those aren't vintage Lester numbers, but let's remember that, beforehand, he owned a 5.46 ERA and couldn't keep the ball in the park, or out of areas where the opposition could make solid contact with it.