CLEARWATER, Fla. - At first, Bobby Valentine didn't think he needed to say anything.
“I don’t have to describe it. You saw it. It was outstanding. That’s what he was aiming to do. The fact that he was ahead on the count, he was happy. He was throwing offspeed pitches down in the zone, his fastball explosive, that’s pretty good stuff,” Valentine said.
He was speaking about Jon Lester, who won a 6-0 decision over the Phillies Monday. He went seven innings, threw 88 pitches, allowed two hits with no walks and struck out 10. It was the top pitching performance of the 2012 spring training season for the Red Sox and apropos that the team’s Opening Day starter would author it.
“Felt pretty much the same as the last time,” Lester said. “I got the ball down in the zone a little more. When you’re able to do that, you get better results. That was the biggest thing early establishing getting ball down and I was able to do that.”
He issued only one three-ball count. He credited being able to throw his off-speed pitches down including some breaking balls in the dirt which hitters offered at, for his stellar performance.
“That’s a big step in the right direction for me,” Lester said.
* Cody Ross, Dustin Pedroia and Mauro Gomez all homered for Boston.
*Matt Albers and Ross Ohlendorf finished off the shutout with scoreless innings.
*Phillies righty Joe Blanton, on the trade block, threw five innings, allowed seven hits and five earned runs. He struck out five.
*Lars Anderson, who has a chance to make the team, doubled in three at-bats,
*Jose Iglesias reached base three times and continued his smooth play at shortstop including a nice cutoff throw to nail Luis Montanez at the plate in the third inning.