NEW YORK — The second he stepped on the mound Monday at Yankee Stadium for his third straight opening day start, Jon Lester was joining a very small club of Red Sox pitchers.
The last Sox pitcher to make three straight opening day starts was Pedro Martinez, who did it each of his seven seasons in Boston. The last lefty to make three straight opening day starts was Mel Parnell nearly 60 years ago. The only other lefty to do it was Babe Ruth. No left-hander had won an opening day start for the Sox since Gary Peters did it in Yankee Stadium 43 years ago.
That included Lester, who had taken the mound to start the year the past two seasons only to come away empty handed each time.
So getting his first ever opening day win was historic but it was also a relief.
“It’s big,” Lester said. “It’s obviously nicer than the past couple years to be on top 1-0 instead of going through a whole road trip without a win again. So it’s big for us to come in here and just try to get on a roll and set the tone early.”
Leaning on his fastball and cutter, Lester went five innings, striking out seven, and giving up just two runs on five hits. His only rough patch was a 34-pitch fourth inning, during which got himself into a bases-loaded jam and then gave up a two-out, two-run single to Francisco Cervelli.
“I would’ve liked that ball Cervelli hit to go foul or pop it up and roll it over,” Lester said. “It was a pretty good pitch. He did a pretty good job of keeping it fair. I think with one out, bases loaded, giving up two runs is not ideal, but we’ll take it. It was good to get out of it and get on to the next one.”
Last season, Lester’s only losing year in his eight major league seasons, it took him four starts to earn his first win. This year, he said, he can breath easier without having the cloud hanging over him.
“I think that’s the biggest thing, to have the W,” Lester said. “Regardless how good bad or ugly it is, when you win, everything’s a lot happier. It’s good, especially after the last few years to get that one off our back and come back on Wednesday and get a win.”