Jon Lester frustrates Athletics, commands strike zone in win

Jim Rogash

Jon Lester turned in one of the best starts of his career in an eight inning, 15 strikeout outing against the Athletics.

BOSTON -- It seemed all day that Jon Lester threw whatever he wanted, wherever he wanted and it was going to be called for a strike. Throughout his dominant eight inning, one hit, 15 strikeout performance in the Red Sox's 6-3 win over the Athletics, Lester owned the strike zone. When he needed a pitch to hit David Ross' mitt, Lester hit the spot, ice cold.

With each strikeout, the Athletics visibly grew more and more frustrated. A's manager Bob Melvin offered a slight disclaimer to Lester's performance.

"Big plate," Melvin said.

Many of the other A's players agreed with their skipper.

"Cutters in, cutters off the plate were called for strikes," third baseman Josh Donaldson said. "What are you gonna do? You're up there trying to battle and he did a good job today."

Shortstop Jed Lowrie gave Lester credit for exploiting umpire D.J. Reyburn's strike zone.

"When a guy is throwing like he is," Lowrie said. "It's easy to find a reason why you're not getting hits and even if he was, he did a great job of taking advantage of it."

Catcher David Ross was impressed by Lester's command of his cutter throughout his outing. Lester threw the cutter for a strike 72.7% of the time today, but Ross was actually worried about the pitch pre-game.

"It was terrible in the pen," Ross said. "I was worried. He locked it in from the get-go. It's like hitters. Sometimes you have your worst BP and it's your best game because you really focus. From pitch one, he was working the corners really aggressive down in the zone. When he's got the two-plane fastball going, four-seam, it really, really worked good. Like I said, didn't really have to use a whole lot of change ups and back-door breaking balls. A lot of fastballs and cutters and working both sides of the plate and that's as dominant a performance I've seen from any pitcher in a long time."

"He had great command of all of his pitches," Lowrie said. "He executed and he didn't really make any mistakes today The velocity was up again too. As much as I don't like to say it, it was pretty impressive."

Second baseman Nick Punto, who played most of the 2012 season with the Red Sox, said that he think Lester has grown on the mound in terms of demeanor.

"He just looked like he's pitching with a lot of confidence," Punto said. "He's been a stuff guy, a guy with really good stuff and it looks like he's putting it all together."

Ross, who appears to be Lester's personal catcher, said that pitching with the lead allowed the duo to be more aggressive in how they attacked the strike zone. Throughout the day, the pair mixed Lester's pitches well, combining a mix of a four-seamer, sinker, curveball, cutter and change up.

"When you mix his stuff with my brains," Ross chuckled, "there's just endless possibilities."

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