BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 11: Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during the game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
The Red Sox have had quite a few historic-level pitchers in their ranks over the years, but most of those came on the right side: Roger Clemens, Cy Young, Pedro Martinez, and more. The club has had some excellent left-handed starters as well, though, with the likes of Dutch Leonard, Babe Ruth, Lefty Grove, and Mel Parnell coming through town. Jon Lester is the modern day equivalent (well, not to Grove, who is a Hall of Fame hurler), and now the Boston southpaw is the organization's all-time leader in strikeouts by a lefty.
It wasn't Lester's best outing, but he held the Yankees in check despite seven walks. And, along the way, he picked up five strikeouts, the last of which was 1,044 of his career, eclipsing the record finished off by Bruce Hurst back in 1988, his last season in Boston.
Hurst pitched for the Red Sox from 1980 through 1988, and struck out batters for Boston at a 6.4 per nine clip. It took him 6,264 hitters and 1,459 innings to reach 1,043 strikeouts. Lester, on the other hand, has faced 4,795 batters in his career, in just 1,138 innings. Striking out almost two more whole batters per nine will allow you that difference in pace.
Lester now ranks seventh in strikeouts for any pitcher in Red Sox history, 31 punch outs behind right-hander Luis Tiant. He has a long road ahead of him to finish at the top, though:
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Barring injury, Lester should be in the top five after the 2013 campaign. He's under contract for one more season in Boston after that, on an option, giving him time to pass Cy Young, again assuming health. After that, though, it's going to take more years with the Red Sox for him to get any closer to the top.
This also assumes Lester continues to be more like the hurler he's been for his last 60 innings, and not the one who was struggling with his mechanics for the better part of the year. But you knew that.