“I think it’s really encouraging,” manager Terry Francona said of Lester’s strong start to the season, “because the last couple years April’s been so tough for him, and once he seems to find it he doesn’t lose it. I think that’s really good news. [Tuesday night] he went out and established his fastball and used it a lot. He’s got so many different weapons and I think I said in spring training, when he knows he can repeat his pitches he’s a different pitcher.”
Against the Angels on Tuesday, though, Lester was much the same pitcher he was against them in Anaheim last month when he shut them out through six innings. Of four wins this season, two have come at the expense of the Angels. In 13 combined innings he has allowed just one run on 10 hits with 3 walks and 19 strikeouts.
“Just was able to repeat a good rhythm, good effort level, didn't really overthrow a lot of balls tonight,” Lester said. “So that part was good. Kept that same effort level pretty much through the whole game.”
Another Lester start, another ho-hum outing.
93 pitches over 7 innings. 11 strike outs, 1 walk, 1 earned run with 6 hits.
At some point this Spring, we're going to have to stop being surprised that Lester is dominating in months that don't start with a 'J'. Last week we gave him credit for his superb April, and talked about how we really shouldn't be that surprised with how well he's pitching. After all, he's arguably the best left-hander in the game, and one of the elite starters.
Now that we're into May, let's all stop talking about April. More importantly, let's stop looking to the past and start moving forward. Having Lester pitching this well is a huge piece of our puzzle this year, and he's doing his part. So let's let him pitch and start worrying about the other parts that have yet to come together.
Lester isn't frail by any means, but the more we harp on the fact that we expect him to be pitching worse than he is, well, there's not a lot of upside to that discussion.
On Page 2, Adrian Gonzalez hit a home run!
Going into Tuesday, in fact, Gonzalez had hit just one homer in 28 games -- and that came in the fifth game of the year.
By the time Gonzalez hit his second homer of the season in Tuesday night's 7-3 win over the Angels -- his first at home -- 96 at-bats had passed.
"Was I concerned?'' said Gonzalez, repeating a reporter's question. "Well, I thought I'd hit another before the end of the year.''
Gonzalez had talked about his homer drought last week in Baltimore and maintained that the long stretch without a long ball had nothing to do with his surgically-repaired shoulder and everything to do with a mechanical flaw in his swing.
''Since that day in Cleveland [when he hit the first homer] I was just focusing on hitting balls away,'' said Gonzalez Tuesday night. "But I've been moving in the right direction.''
If I said I wasn't concerned about Gonzalez's lack of home runs, it wouldn't be a complete truth. He was my first pick in Fantasy. But in a real-world context, I wasn't concerned at all.
He's had no problem hitting the ball. He has 18 RBIs and seemingly gets at least one hit a game. He has left a few men on base in some tough situations, but look at these stats:
With runners on base, he's batting .400.
With runners in scoring position, he's batting .382
With the bases loaded, he's batting .500
And most impressive, with runners in scoring position with 2 outs? 6 hits in 12 at bats. .500 average
So I can excuse the fact that his power hasn't been spectacular. After all, you have to assume it's going to take him some time to build up the strength in his shoulder. The power will come.
I'd be willing to sacrifice a few home runs if he can continue to put up those numbers with runners on.
Rest of the links:
CSNNE - Game Story: May 3, 2011: Red Sox 7, Angels 3 | Pitching notes: Jenks thinks he's cured | Herald - Wheeler could use some relief | More than win streak | Sox come up aces again | WEEI - Adrian Gonzalez makes himself at home | Lester, Sox ace test against Angels in 7-3 win | NESN - Jon Lester Targeting Greatness With Dominance Early in 2011 Season | Red Sox Send a Message With Success Against Premier Pitching | Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz Both Homer, Red Sox Continue Dominance of Angels With 7-3 Win