For 23 starts, we watched Jon Lester struggle like we've never seen before in his career. But for the first time this season yesterday afternoon, we watched the Boston Red Sox starter dominate a team in the Cleveland Indians.
Of course it didn't hurt that the offense got him 14 runs in the first five innings, five of them coming in the first two innings. And with a lead like that Lester could do no wrong.
Honestly, it was fun to watch Lester pitch. And given how he started the game, you probably wouldn't have thought he'd end allowing one run on three hits, two walks and 12 strikeouts.
The offense got him three runs in the top half of the 1st inning and back-to-back singles by Jason Donald and Asdrubal Cabrera, it looked like he'd give them back. But he struck out Shin-Soo Choo and then Carlos Santana brought in Donald with a sac fly. After a walk to Shelley Duncan, he got yesterday's hero Brent Lillibridge to ground into a fielder's choice.
Over the next three innings, he allowed two more hits while striking out six. In the 5th inning while Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo were going through DO's man bag, Lester struck out the side. He finished his afternoon by striking out the final two batters he faced.
Offensively, the only starter to not have a hit was Danny Valencia although he did knock in a run with a sac fly in eight-run 5th inning.
Carl Crawford once again looked like the Crawford of old as he had three doubles and knocked in four runs. Mike Aviles was perfect on the afternoon going 3-for-3 with a double.
Adrian Gonzalez had a big afternoon as well. He had two hits including a two-run homer in the 1st and then added a two-run double in the 5th. Jacoby Ellsbury also had two hits, one of which was a two-run double in the 5th as well.
You almost had to feel bad for the Indians pitchers yesterday. It was like the Red Sox were taking out a season's worth of frustration on them.
I had said last night that it's hard to stay positive about this team. They, obviously, can be frustrating to watch at times. They haven't gotten what they thought they'd get from Lester and Josh Beckett. Clay Buchholz has been the ace of this staff.
The win Lester got yesterday was his first since June 16th, yes June 16th. That was almost two months ago. Beckett has one win in his last 11 starts dating back to May 26th. So when you look at why the Red Sox are still two games below .500, you don't really need to look any further.
I say that with a grain of salt though because you can't place the blame solely on them. This is a team sport, not an individual one.
What you can hope for though is that yesterday's game was the start of something special, like a big run. There's still 46 games left in the season. They are just six games out of second place (Tampa Bay Rays) and 5.5 games out of third (Baltimore Orioles). Those two teams right now have the top spots in the AL Wild Card standings.
The Red Sox have nine games left against the Orioles, including the three in the series starting on Tuesday. They have six more games against the Rays. They also play two of the teams ahead of them, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (six games) and Oakland Athletics (three).
If at the very least, they can take 3/4 of those games and win the rest of their series along the way, the Red Sox are, by no means, out of it yet. It's up to them though whether they want to play October baseball in the postseason or spend it making vacation plans.
Let's just hope this IS the start of something special.
We'll be back in a bit with the pitching matchups for the series with the Orioles. So for now, let's take a look at the overnight links from the media.
To open the links up in a new tab or window, use Control+click
For Lester, an easy win brings relief [boston globe]
Bad break for Middlebrooks [boston globe]
Another sore spot for surging Crawford [boston globe]
Jon Lester, Red Sox dominate Indians [boston herald]
David Ortiz rides out pain [boston herald]
Injury casts doubt on a Will Middlebrooks return [boston herald]
Jon Lester throws a curve [boston herald]
Lester, Red Sox shellack Indians, 14-1 [csn new england]
Saddened Middlebrooks forced to be Sox 'cheerleader' [csn new england]
Lester finally gets result he's been pitching for [csn new england]
Ortiz: 'Achilles hasn't healed like we were expecting' [csn new england]
Crawford swinging hot bat despite pain in wrist [csn new england]
Middlebrooks won't need surgery on wrist [espn boston]
Ortiz still isn't ready to go [espn boston]
Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 14, Indians 1 [espn boston]
Lester calls stellar outing 'confidence boost' [espn boston]
Crawford stays hot despite wrist pain [espn boston]
Closing Time: Offense explodes, Jon Lester dominant in rout of Indians [full count]
Danny Valencia Trade Looks Good as Third Baseman Steps Up With Will Middlebrooks Gone [nesn.com]
Adrian Gonzalez Atoning for Slow First Half of Season With Magnificent Production in Second Half [nesn.com]
Carl Crawford Pulled From Game Due to Flare-Up of Wrist Injury That Could Require Injection [nesn.com]
Jon Lester Shows Renewed Confidence, Effective Curveball That Results in 12 Strikeouts [nesn.com]
Odd Late-Game Substitutions Underscore Odd Season for Bobby Valentine, Red Sox [nesn.com]
Mortensen gets rare AB [projo sox blog]
Valencia appreciates chance for fresh start [redsox.com]
Big Papi remains out, unable to run without pain [redsox.com]
Middlebrooks won't need surgery on right wrist [redsox.com]
How Adrian Gonzalez learned to stop thinking (and walking) and start raking [alex speier - weei.com]
For more slices of Red Sox goodness, head over to the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, CSN New England, ESPN Boston, NESN, Providence Journal, RedSox.com and WEEI websites.
And if you must check out the enemy news, be sure to head over to the Akron Beacon Journal and Cleveland Plain Dealer websites. You can also check out our Bloguin brother, Burning River Baseball.
Follow Ian on Twitter @soxanddawgs. And be sure to like us on Facebook as well.
photo credit: getty images
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