60-39: Lester victorious in return

Jon Lester (1-0) doesn’t look like he’s missed a beat. He led the Red Sox to a 6-2 victory in the opening game of a series at Jacobs Field last night.

In his first major league game since last year’s cancer scare, Lester pitched six strong innings, holding the Cleveland Indians to two runs on five hits and three walks. The two runs came on a home run by Grady Sizemore in the 3rd inning. He struck out six and threw 96 pitches. Terry Francona had noted before the game that there would be no pitch counts and no special limitations on Lester of any kind from now on.

In the fourth, Cleveland loaded the bases with one out, but Lester got Ryan Garko to yield a comebacker to the mound, and got the force out at the plate. He then struck out Sizemore to end the inning. Lester’s parents were seen jumping up and pumping their fists in celebration. Congratulations to you guys, your son really deserved the win last night. Hopefully Lester’s comeback can help the Sox to play some inspired baseball down the stretch.

This game ought to help silence some of the recent Lester criticism we’ve been hearing. He’s had a couple of rough outings, sure, but he is a major league pitcher, period. With a little experience and polishing, he will be a very good left-handed starter in this league. He needs to be more confident in his stuff and control his pitch counts like he did last night, to go deeper into games.

The bullpen did an awesome job again, holding the Indians scoreless for three innings. Mike Timlin is positively on fire, and recorded another 1 1/3 innings to bring his scoreless streak total to 16 innings. Hideki Okajima, eat your heart out. Manny Delcarmen came on at the end of the eighth to record his first major league save.

The Red Sox scored early and often in this one, jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning on the strength of a Manny Ramirez double and J.D. Drew single. Lefty Jake Westbrook (1-6) went five hitters before recording a single out, a double play ball by Mike Lowell. It was good to see the Sox do well against a quality left-handed starter, though Westbrook is struggling a lot this season.

Coco Crisp had four hits and scored three times from the leadoff spot, continuing his hot streak. Crisp is now at .366/.430/.606 for the month of July, and is hitting .310/.362/.429 when he’s first in the lineup. Julio Lugo also had a hit, extending his hitting streak to a season-high 13 games.

David Ortiz continued to sit, and Kevin Youkilis hit third last night, going 2-4 with a walk. Youkie is such a valuable hitter, he can and has hit anywhere in this lineup.


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