The Red Sox got back in the win column Friday night thanks to a dominant effort from Jon Lester.
It's been a rough week for Boston, and on some level they really needed someone to step up with a huge night and drag the team to victory. And while they've had some good individual performances along the way, Lester's outing was on a completely different level.
The Blue Jays either came out with a gameplan of aggression, or simply left what patience they have behind in the clubhouse. The first out of the night, a fly ball from Rajai Davis, came on just one pitch, and the next two required just five more. Lester came out with the kind of control that would make the night tough for any team, but when the Jays were content to swing at paint on the corners, the result was weak out after weak out.
The 39-year-old Ramon Ortiz' command was not nearly so sharp, and at first it seemed like the Red Sox would make him pay for it. Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia both reached base in the bottom of the third, giving the middle of the order a chance to score some runs, but a suddenly slumping David Ortiz grounded into a double play to end the threat. Another one-out walk and single--this time from Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia respectively--would again give the Red Sox a chance in the second, but it was still only an errant throw from shortstop Maicer Izturis would let the Sox plate the first run.
Again and again the Red Sox would let Ortiz off the hook. The Sox would go 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position in each of the third, fourth, and fifth innings, allowing Ortiz to finish his night with just one run to his name despite allowing nine baserunners in five innings.
With Jon Lester rolling, however, the Red Sox wouldn't even need to score again. It was 17 up, 17 down to start the game for Lester, perfect up until Maicer Izturis doubled to left. Finally pitching out of the stretch, Lester responded by striking out Adam Lind and heading back to the dugout.
The Red Sox would ultimately give him some breathing room in the seventh, taking advantage of Brett Cecil as Blue Jays manager John Gibbons tried to get a second inning out of him. Once again it was the top of the lineup getting on base and the middle-of-the-order coming up empty, but this time with all three of Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, and Dustin Pedroia recording singles, it was enough to push a run accross.
Having the first three get on also happened to give Daniel Nava a shot with runners on after David Ortiz and Mike Napoli struck out, and he didn't waste the opportunity. Taking a low fastball to the opposite field, Nava planted a double off the wall to score two more, and then scored himself when Jarrod Saltalamacchia cleared drove a deep fly ball over Jose Bautista's head in right for an RBI double of his own.
That left just two innings to go, and even after the long wait, Lester was up to the task. The Jays went down in order, with Lester picking up a pair of strikeouts in the ninth inning to put an exclamation mark on what was a truly fantastic outing.
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