With his fastball still hitting 92 miles per hour in the ninth inning Jon Lester put the finishing touches on the longest outing of the Red Sox Sox season, throwing the pitching staff’s first complete game one-hit shutout and pushing the Sox to a 5-0 win.
Lester took a no-hitter into the sixth retiring the first 17 batters he faced before giving up a two-out double to Maicer Izturis, but that’s as generous as he would get.
He struck out four and walked none, looking as sharp as he has all season in a year that’s been a return to form for the left-hander.
He got a lift from the the Sox offense, which was sluggish to start but flourished late. Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia both with 2 for 3. Will Middlebrooks went 2 for 4 and Daniel Nava went 1 for 3 with a big two-run double.
End of the seventh, Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 0: The Sox finally come through with runners in scoring position. Dustin Pedroia made it happen with runners on second and third.
His single to right plated Jacoby Ellsbury.
Nothing changed for David Ortiz, who flailed at a 2-and-2 curveball with runners at the corners to make him 0 for his last 16. Mike Napoli whiffed at an 0-and-2 slider.
But Daniel Nava cleaned it up with a two-run double off the center-field side of the Wall. Coming in, Nava had been at the plate 41 times with runners in scoring position, third on the team behind Napoli and Pedroia, and he was hitting .333. He ran his RBI total up to 23 in just 30 games.
For good measure, Jarrod Saltalamacchia picked up his 15th two out hit of the season, a double that drove in Nava and gave his 10th RBI of the season.
Middle of the sixth, Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 0: Jon Lester’s no-hit bid comes to an end. He had retired 17 straight before Maicer Izturis doubled to left.
Izturis jumped on the first pitch he saw, a changeup over the plate and at the knees. Lester got on ovation for the night he’s put together so far.
As solid as he’s been, the Sox may need more out of him. With the bullpen battered by injuries, Sox manager John Farrell’s been pleading to see a starter go seven to eight innings. The last time Lester went 7 was April 18 against Cleveland.
End of the fifth, Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 0: The story of the Sox offense? Missed opportunities. They’re 0 for 10 as a team with runners in scoring position today. David Ortiz and Mike Napoli are a combined 0 for 4 and they’ve both grounded into double plays.
End of the fourth, Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 0: Through four innings, Jon Lester’s thrown 43 pitches. You don’t have to look that far back in through his outings to see that kind of efficiency. Last time out in Texas, Lester threw 55 pitches over the first three innings, before the Rangers work him for as many pitches as possible.
The Jays haven’t really shown any interest in being patient. They’re only seeing 3.58 pitches per at-bat. Lester’s not dancing around the plate either. He’s thrown 28 strikes and starting off nine of the 12 batters he’s seen with first-pitch strikes.
End of the third, Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 0: Walking David Ortiz with one out and one on, even though he’s struggling turned out to be a decent idea for Ramon Ortiz.
Mike Napoli ended up bouncing a ball to third that nearly led to an inning-ending double play, but Napoli beat the throw from second baseman Mark DeRosa. The Jays got out of it when Daniel Dava flew out to center.
End of the second, Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 0:It’s hard to pin down exactly how the Jays are defensively. They’ve played 34 different players in the field. They’re fifth in the American League in defensive efficiency. But they came into tonight having committed 20 errors as a team, two more than the league average.
They added to that total, when MAicer Izturis and Mark Derosa botched an attempt at a double-play that would have ended the inning. Instead Daniel Nava, who drew a one-out, four-pitch walk, came around to score and put the Sox ahead.
End of the first, Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0: Jon Lester couldn’t have asked for a quicker inning. He sandwiched a Melky Cabrera ground ball between fly outs from Rajai Davis and Jose Bautista and got out of the inning throwing just six pitches.
The Sox seemed to have something with one out when Shane Victorino singled to left and Dustin Pedroia walked on four pitches, but David Ortiz bounced into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and extend his hitless streak to 14 at-bats.
Pregame: Obviously, the 13-23 start that has the Blue Jays in last place in the AL East isn’t what they had in mind when they were making all those moves in the offseason. No one on the roster’s hitting .300 — or anywhere near it — except for Jose Reyes, who over course will miss three months with a sprained ankle. None of their starters have an ERA under 4.00.
They’ve lost six of their last nine overall, and they’re 6-11 on the road this season, but that road record is a little deceptive. Of their past 13 road games, 12 have been decided by two runs or less. They’re 4-8 over that stretch. It’s been that way for 13 of their 17 road games overall this season.
On the flip side the Sox, who have lost six of their last seven, have are 5-3 in one run games this season and 3-4 in two-run games. It matters because even though the Sox have won four of the first six meetings with the Jays this season, outscoring the Jays 39-20, three of those games were actually decided by two runs or less.
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