Coming home after a rough road trip that saw them go 2-7, the Red Sox needed an ace-like performance from Jon Lester, and the southpaw didn’t disappoint.
Lester came out of the gate strong, facing the minimum amount of batters through the first 11 that came to the plate in a much-needed 5-2 win over the Indians on Thursday that saw the Sox’ offense come back to life.
The Indians didn’t get their first runner in scoring position until there were two outs in the fifth, as a hot shot from Yan Gomes couldn’t be picked by Brock Holt at third, which moved Santana up to second. Mike Aviles flew out to right to end the inning with no damage done.
The biggest mistake for Lester came in the sixth, when Michael Bourn hit a sharp grounder to first that Mike Napoli made a nice diving play on to grab, but Lester dropped the ball covering the bag and Bourn reached safely.
After Asdrubal Cabrera flew out to right, Michael Brantley smacked a double to left that moved Bourn up to third. Jason Kipnis then hit a grounder that got through Dustin Pedroia, scoring both Michaels to make it a 3-2 game.
With two outs, Kipnis moved up to second on a single to left by Ryan Raburn, prompting a visit from pitching coach Juan Nieves.
Lester came out for the seventh and got the first out of the inning, then allowed a single to Aviles. Jackie Bradley Jr. made a sensational running catch on a deep drive to center by Bourn, then doubled up Aviles at first on a perfect throw to retire the side.
After getting the first two outs of the eighth, Kipnis singled to right, ending Lester’s night at 109 pitches. Junichi Tazawa came in to face Santana and struck him out to end the inning and close the book on Lester.
Lester’s final line for the night: 7 2/3 innings pitched, allowing one earned run on eight hits with one walk and four strikeouts. He bounced back well from a tough outing against the Tigers over the weekend, and the way the offense has fared over the past week, the Sox need as many strong starts as they can get.