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Monday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Jon Lester vs. Felix Hernandez

07.08.13 at 1:54 pm ET
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Jon Lester has been more effective his last two starts, seemingly coming out of his month-long sputter, and he will look to continue that uptick in sharpness Monday night at Safeco Field against the Mariners and their ace, Felix Hernandez.

June was cruel to Lester (8-4, 4.41 ERA), the left-handed starter who tops the Red Sox depth chart while Clay Buchholz is on the DL. His ERA rose from 2.72 on May 15 to 4.61, its peak, on June 27.

However, that June 27 start — in which he allowed four earned runs in seven innings — could represent the start of a turnaround for Lester. He followed that up with seven more innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 win over the Padres last Wednesday, scattering six hits and a walk while striking out five.

He gave up half of those hits during a 32-pitch first inning, but Lester settled down after that in his eventual no-decision, paving the way for Jonny Gomes‘€™ walk-off dramatics.

‘€œThe team’€™s been doing pretty good,’€ Lester told reporters after the game. ‘€œI think I’€™ve thrown the ball better at times — better than what my line scores have been showing. There have been some bad ones mixed in there, but after last start [June 27] and this start, maybe start stringing some good ones together and get on a little bit of a roll.’€

Lester has found success against the team closest to his hometown of Tacoma, Wash. He is 4-2 with a 3.58 ERA while striking out 63 batters in 60 1/3 innings.

Hernandez — who Saturday was named an AL All-Star for the fourth time — has similar numbers against the Sox (6-2, 3.18 ERA).

On the whole, the 6-foot-3 righty is pitching as well as ever. His 2.69 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 9.5 K/9 rate are all better than his career averages, and in his last two starts opposing teams have scored four runs in 14 innings while fanning 18 times.

Fifth-inning solo homers from David Murphy and Ian Kinsler were the only blemishes on Hernandez’€™s day against the Rangers Wednesday.

A number of Red Sox have a considerable number of plate appearances against Hernandez, most notably his former AL West rival Mike Napoli (.641 OPS in 39 plate appearances).

Red Sox vs. Hernandez (RHP)

Mike Napoli (39 plate appearances): .182 BA/.308 OBP/.333 SLG, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 3 RBIs, 6 walks, 12 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (35): .313/.371/.438, 1 double, 1 home run, 3 RBIs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts

David Ortiz (32): .259/.375/.407, 1 double, 1 home run, 4 RBIs, 5 walks, 6 strikeouts

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (24): .227/.292/.273, 1 double, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts

Jacoby Ellsbury (23): .286/.348/.571, 2 home runs, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Jonny Gomes (13): .200/.308/.200, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

Daniel Nava (7): .143/.143/.143, 3 strikeouts

Shane Victorino (4): .667/.750/1.667, 1 double, 1 triple, 2 RBIs, 1 walk

Mike Carp, Brock Holt, Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway and Brandon Snyder have never faced Hernandez.

Mariners vs. Lester (LHP)

Raul Ibanez (12 plate appearances): .333 BA/.333 OBP/.500 SLG, 2 doubles, 5 strikeouts

Justin Smoak (10): .300/.300/.400, 1 double, 4 strikeouts

Brendan Ryan (9): .333/.333/.556, 2 doubles, 1 strikeout

Dustin Ackley (7): .286/.286/.286, 1 strikeout

Kyle Seager (7): .143/.153/.571, 1 home run, 2 RBIs

Endy Chavez (6): .333/.333/.333

Michael Saunders (6): .500/.500/1.000, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 strikeout

Henry Blanco (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Kendrys Morales (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 RBI

Jason Bay, Nick Franklin, Brad Miller and Mike Zunino have never faced Lester.

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