Rangers - 000 000 001 - 1 2 1Lester retired the first 19 Rangers with as strong a repertoire of pitches as Red Sox fans have seen in several years.
Red Sox - 010 034 00x - 8 9 0
Fastball, cutter, curveball -- he was absolute command of all of them. His fastball was hitting 98 in the early innings and coupled with a 81 mph cutter -- "evil, depraved filth", as Lord Lynch said during the game thread -- the Texas batters had no clue what was going on. In 6.1 perfect innings, Lester threw only 64 pitches, yet racked up 10 strikeouts!
In the fifth inning, it seemed like there was only one way this game could possibly turn out. I had the overpowering feeling of knowing the ending and the sense that I was rewatching the game, reveling in the majesty of Lester's performance. I can't recall another instance of that feeling of inevitability.
Michael Young broke the tension with a first-pitch double to left-center in the seventh. After acknowledging a loud standing ovation, Lester walked Andruw Jones, but got the next two outs. He breezed through a 1-2-3 eighth. Elvis Andrus walked to start the ninth, moved to second on a grounder, took third on Young's single to left and scored on Jones's fly out to center.
Three pitches later, the game was over. 9-2-1-2-11, 107. Masterful.
Also: David Ortiz walked, singled and homered (off the right field pole) in four plate appearances. Mike Lowell also hit a dong. Dustin Pedroia had two singles and two RBI, Jason Variek and Rocco Baldelli both singled and walked, and Jason Bay whacked a two-run single to cap a 10-pitch at-bat and send Holland to the showers in the fifth.
Boston is in sole possession of first place, 0.5 GA of the Yankees.
Derek Holland (6.33, 72 ERA+) / Jon Lester (5.65, 85 ERA+)
Holland is a 22-year-old lefty who has pitched in only 11 major league games, including nine in relief. After his two starts on May 22 and 27, he was back in the pen for two appearances.
Even the Rangers don't have a good explanation for what happened to Derek Holland last year, and frankly, they don't care, they're just enjoying it. One of the last of the draft-and-follows, Holland had signed with an average fastball, but he kicked off the year at Low-A Clinton touching 95 on the speed gun (2.40 ERA), and by the end of the season, it was there consistently while reaching as high as 99 mph [0.69 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 26 AA innings], and he fills the strike zone with it. It's an absolute monster of a pitch, and he'll be a future stud if he can figure out a more breaking ball than his current slurvy offering. That will be his primary focus in 2009, and will determine his future as either a power starter or power reliever, but he'll be awfully valuable either way.After his dreadful performance last night, Julio Lugo will get a seat on the bench and Nick Green will start.
Terry Francona and Theo Epstein both tried to stamp down the story of David Ortiz possibly having vision trouble.
I had a feeling this one would get some legs. ... He had dry eyes on this last trip and he was blinking on a couple of at-bats. So he went to the trainers. Rather than give a guy a thing of eyedrops, we have really good ophthalmologists . He had some dry eyes, which I think we all do [at times].[While searching for the word "optometrist", Tito initially said "obstetrician" -- and once everything was clarified, he said: "If he ends up pregnant on Tuesday, we have an issue!"]
We used probably the most experienced baseball ophthalmologist. ... He has lots of fancy charts and graphs. Even if a player is 20-20, they'll still push for a correction because an average big leaguer is significantly better than 20-20. David tested really well back in Spring Training. But it makes sense, any time a guys eyes are bothering him, to get re-tested.***
At 1 PM: Rays/Yankees and Royals/Blue Jays. New York leads the East by 0.5 over Boston and 2.5 over Toronto.