28-19: Lester tosses no hitter against the Royals

Clay Buchholz got his last year, and now Jon Lester (3-2) has his. The 24-year old lefty collared the Kansas City Royals for 8 innings, earning the complete game shutout and no-hitter. I think it’s now safe to say that he’s made a full recovery from his lymphoma. He had to use 130 pitches, which is not ideal, but he threw a lot of strikes tonight, walking only two and striking out nine Royals. They really need to figure him out; Lester threw most of a one-hitter against Kansas last July. For a lefty to throw a no-hitter in Fenway is even more impressive, as much as righties like to use the Monster to play wall ball with relatively medium-distance fly balls. A wind blowing in from the outfield likely helped tonight, but it’s still a great, great moment for the young pitcher.

Lester wasn’t quite perfect in this one, as he did throw away a pickoff in the top of the 2nd, allowing Miguel Olivo to advance to second base. But considering the rest of the game, I’ll take it anytime.

Just as Buchholz had his Dustin Pedroia to save him last year, Lester had his Jacoby Ellsbury tonight. In the top of the 4th, Jose Guillen, who has been hot lately, smacked a tailing liner to short right-center field. Ellsbury was playing Guillen straightaway and pretty deep, and used all of his considerable speed and a diving grab to spear the sinking ball to preserve the no-no. Lester seemed to get stronger as the night went on, notching most of his strikeouts in the later innings.

If there was any doubt about Jason Varitek‘s catching ability, it ought to be gone now. He’s the first catcher in baseball history to catch four no-hitters by four separate pitchers. And it should also be mentioned that Curt Schilling came within an out of throwing another one last season against the Athletics. Either Tek is the luckiest catcher in the universe, or he’s pretty darn good at what he does.

The Sox lineup took a 5-0 lead in the 3rd inning when Royals starter Luke Hochevar (3-3) lost control of his fastball and allowed four hits and three walks, including a key triple by Ellsbury to the triangle in center. It didn’t help that second baseman Mark Grudzielanek dropped a routine infield fly by Mike Lowell that should have ended the inning after just two runs scored. That allowed Kevin Youkilis to extend the lead with a gap double; what a May he’s having (.369/.417/.815 with 8 doubles, 7 HR and 18 RBI going into this one and it’s still only the 19th of the month).

Ellsbury continued where he left off, stealing another two bases tonight. Nobody, especially Jason Kendall, is going to intimidate him into not running.

So… Let’s see here: Lester has a no-hitter, Justin Masterson looked really good against the Angels, Jed Lowrie hit .310/.340/.476 in filling key holes. That Johan Santana non-trade is looking better and better all the time (not that I would mind having him in the rotation, of course).


One Response to 28-19: Lester tosses no hitter against the Royals

  1. redsoxtalk says:

    Poor Justin Masterson. Because of regulations, he wasn’t allowed to be at the park tonight. Tough break…


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