|Closing Time: Jon Lester dominates as Red Sox keep rolling||05.14.12 at 9:37 pm ET|
Suddenly, the Red Sox are on a roll, led by the efforts of their rotation. While the Sox had produced three straight quality starts (and with them, three straight wins) entering Monday, none was so overpowering as the effort put forth by Jon Lester on Monday night against the Mariners in a 6-1 victory over Seattle.
Lester featured an arsenal that was at times overpowering, with a 93-94 mph fastball, a swing-and-miss curve and changeup and the occasional cutter, a mix that had the Mariners guessing as to pitch type and location. The combination was electric, as the left-hander retired the first 11 batters he faced without permitting a single ball to leave the infield before Ichiro Suzuki ended any visions of a perfect game with a single lined off of the pitcher’s glove.
While that ended any visions of a second career no-hitter, Lester delivered one of his most dominant efforts in some time. He struck out six, walked none, and of the eight hits he allowed, seven were singles. It was Lester’s first nine-inning complete game since June 27, 2010.
Though he has been inconsistent this year, Lester has delivered the Sox’ most dominant outings of the year. He has now allowed one or no runs in four of his eight starts, and his ERA stands at a Red Sox-best 3.73.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Lester became the first Red Sox pitcher of the season to pitch into the ninth inning. (Prior to Monday, Lester and Josh Beckett were tied for the longest outing of the year, having each tossed eight innings.)
– Daniel Nava launched his second career home run, 205 plate appearances after he memorably delivered a grand slam in his first big league swing. The left fielder continued to serve as a spark for the Red Sox, as he went 1-for-2 with the homer and two walks (the second intentional). In 20 plate appearances, Nava has reached base 15 times, good for a .750 OBP, along with a .583 average and 2.750 OPS. He has five extra-base hits in five games since being called up.
– Kelly Shoppach went deep for his first homer of 2012, part of a 2-for-4 night. Though there is something of an all-or-nothing aspect to the play of Shoppach and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, as Red Sox catchers have more strikeouts (40) than any team, but the duo also ranks as one of the most — if not the most — productive in the league.Sox catchers are hitting .262 with a .324 OBP, .516 slugging mark and .840 OPS this year, along with six homers. The slugging percentage and OPS are tops for any team’s catchers.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Mike Aviles, batting leadoff against left-hander Jason Vargas, went 0-for-4, as his on-base percentage dropped to .287. In 17 games since April 27, he’s hitting .189 with a .218 OBP, .270 slugging mark and .488 OPS.
– Dustin Pedroia went 0-for-3 (with a walk), snapping his five-game hitting streak.
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