Jon Lester Wins Fifth Straight Start as Red Sox Coast Past Blue Jays

Jon Lester Wins Fifth Straight Start as Red Sox Coast Past Blue Jays Postgame, Red Sox 6-0: Good news all around Sunday. Not only did the Red Sox win and both Tampa Bay and New York lose (yes, we still are watching), but third baseman Adrian Beltre got a clean bill of health.

Beltre had an MRI, CT scan and X-rays taken at MGH earlier Sunday. Nothing popped up and he should be good to go, even if he is still a little sore from that dive he made Saturday night.

“He’ll probably play tomorrow,” Terry Francona said.

If and when Beltre is back in there Monday night he will be facing Brian Matusz, the Orioles’ young lefty who has owned the Sox this season. Matusz will be opposed by Daisuke Matsuzaka as Boston and Baltimore open a three-game set at 7:10 p.m.

Final, Red Sox 6-0: Jon Lester is the story in this one. He wins his fifth straight game with seven scoreless against a team that hammered him the last time they met.

We’ll go hear from Lester and others and come back to wrap this one up for you.

End 8th, Red Sox 6-0: It is getaway day for the Blue Jays so expect some early swings off Robert Coello, who is jogging in to try to finish this one off.

Mid 8th, Red Sox 6-0: The Blue Jays have had a home run in 19 straight games and an extra-base hit in 25 in a row. They have only five singles in this one.

End 7th, Red Sox 6-0: It will be Scott Atchison to take over for Jon Lester, who yielded just four singles in another great outing. The Jays had him on the ropes in two innings but he got out of those jams and had few other issues.

Josh Reddick has replaced J.D. Drew in right.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 6-0: You cannot blame Jon Lester for taking a few steps off the mound after a pitch to Mike McCoy that was called a ball for some unknown reason. Home plate umpire Greg Gibson just didn’t see that one right. Should’ve been strike three and the third out.

McCoy eventually walked but Lester was out of the inning moments later. He is done after 112 pitches, I would imagine.

End 6th, Red Sox 6-0: The Blue Jays elected to intentionally walk Yamaico Navarro (4-for-30 in his career) to load the bases and pitch to Ryan Kalish, who was actually a better hitter against lefties in his minor league career. It works.

Kalish grounds to first to strand three runners and we move on to the seventh.

Wonder if they thought Navarro was Adrian Beltre.

3:24 p.m.: Shaun Marcum continues to get hit hard in the sixth and his day is done following a double by Bill Hall, who is now 5-for-7 with four extra-base hits off Marcum.

Brad Mills is on to face Daniel Nava with two men in scoring position and just one out.

By the way, in an earlier post I mentioned that Jon Lester would likely face the Yankees twice down the stretch. He would actually face New York and then Chicago if everyone stays in line. My bad.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 6-0: Jon Lester’s pitch count is at 91 after he survives a one-out single in the sixth. The key to keeping the Blue Jays down is limiting the extra-base hits. All four of Toronto’s hits have been singles and some of them rather soft.

End 5th, Red Sox 6-0: Three singles, a double and a long two-run homer by J.D. Drew allow the Red Sox to open it up a bit in the fifth. From a pitchers’ duel to a one-sided affair in a heartbeat.

Jed Lowrie and Bill Hall led things off with base hits. Daniel Nave made it 2-0 with a double and Yamaico Navarro followed with a single that got under the glove of left fielder Mike McCoy.

Two runs scored on that play (Navarro gets just one RBI because of the error) and Drew capped the rally by launching one several rows past the bullpens in right.

Mid 5th, Red Sox 1-0: Jon Lester and the Red Sox breathe a huge sigh of relief after the lefty is able to escape another bases-loaded jam. Plenty of credit goes to rookie Yamaico Navarro, who is filling in for Adrian Beltre at third base.

With the bags full and just one out Navarro charges a chopper and makes a perfect throw past the runner home, an exceptionally challenging play to make. That gets Lester his second out.

For the second time Lester has to face Jose Bautista with three men on and for the second time he induces a ground ball. Navarro picks it up again and steps on third for the final out.

End 4th, Red Sox 1-0: Quite a contract push being made by Victor Martinez. With a solo shot down the line in right to start the scoring he improves to .327 (17-for-52) with five homers and 17 RBIs in his last 14 games.

Martinez builds upon his American League lead in RBIs for the month of September. He now has 18.

Going back a bit further he is now batting .349 (30-for-86) with eight homers and 21 RBIs in his last 21 games.

Mid 4th, 0-0: Jon Lester needed 25 pitches to survive the third. He throws only seven in a perfect fourth and will enter the fifth with a pitch count of 59.

End 3rd, 0-0: Shaun Marcum has retired seven in a row since Victor Martinez’s infield hit in the first. Left fielder Mike McCoy helps Marcum out with a nice sliding catch in the corner in the third.

Mid 3rd, 0-0: Jon Lester was in cruise control until a John McDonald single with two outs in the third. Two walks and a visit from pitching coach John Farrell followed, and Lester suddenly had to face the dangerous Jose Bautista with the bases loaded.

After using up nine pitches in walking Yunel Escobar, Lester got Bautista on one. The major league leader in home runs grounds to short.

Also, a bird just flew into a window in the press box.

End 2nd, 0-0: Bill Hall entered 3-for-4 with three home runs off Shaun Marcum. Pretty good. He is now 3-for-5 after a weak dribbler ends the second.

We could be in for a pretty good duel here between Marcum and Jon Lester.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: Lyle Overbay was the primary culprit when Jon Lester had the worst start of his career last month at home against the Jays. Overbay slugged two three-run homers off Lester, the second of which chased the lefty with no outs in the third.

This time Overbay is Lester’s first strikeout victim. He flailed at a cutter on the inside part of the plate.

End 1st, 0-0: Shaun Marcum strikes out the side in the bottom of the first and the one hit he gives up, a single to Victor Martinez, was a check-swing tapper to third on which Edwin Encarnacion had no play.

Marcum loves pitching in Fenway Park. He has allowed four runs in 20 innings here since 2008.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Yamaico Navarro has his first chance in Adrian Beltre’s place and handles it just fine. It was a routine grounder to third that ends a 1-2-3 inning for Jon Lester.

The Sox’ prospects for postseason play are obviously grim but this is one of those days that makes you appreciate baseball in Boston. Fenway is just sparkling right now and it couldn’t be more comfortable.

Just thought I would add that in there.

12:45 p.m.: Apparently Adrian Beltre’s wrist is not going to allow him to go. We will know later on if it is anything serious. For now here is the Beltre-less batting order:

Ryan Kalish, CF
J.D. Drew, RF
Victor Martinez, C
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Lowell, 1B
Jed Lowrie, SS
Bill Hall, 2B
Daniel Nava, LF
Yamaico Navarro, 3B

12:19 p.m.: The Red Sox lineup remains an unknown but we do have the Blue Jays to keep you tied down, as well as some talk about Jon Lester.

First, here is the crew Lester will face Sunday afternoon:

Mike McCoy, LF
Yunel Escobar, SS
Jose Bautista, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
John Buck, C
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
J.P. Arencibia, DH
John McDonald, 2B

Much has been made of Lester’s recent run of dominance. In his last four starts he is 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA with 42 strikeouts in just 27 innings. What some people might forget is that prior to the run Lester had the worst start of his career, at home against these very same Blue Jays.

In a 16-2 loss to Toronto on Aug. 20, Lester gave up a career-high nine runs in a career-low two innings. It was as if he needed to get everything out of his system that night and since then has been very good.

The lefty is lined up to pitch two more times after today. That gives him a chance to reach 20 wins, a feat about which Terry Francona was asked earlier in the day.

“In baseball, the round numbers, there’s some significance,” Francona said. “When you really think about it, what’s the difference between .299 and .300? But it looks huge. Twenty wins is kind of that plateau.

“But that wouldn’t take away from what he’s done. He might go out in his last start, have a lead and somebody gives it up. Wins and losses are certainly important and they are certainly a barometer but there’s other things. This kid’s gone out and pitched so well. Whether it’s 17, 19, 20, some of that’s gonna have to do with the bullpen, scoring runs, things like that. This kid’s phenomanel…he’ll hit 20 [someday], he might go past it.”

Lester will face the Yankees in those last two starts, unless something changes with rotation or weather or whatever. It’ll be a tough task but if he does it Lester would be the first Red Sox lefty since Mel Parnell in 1953 to reach 20 wins.

11:14 a.m.: We are still waiting on lineups here as the Red Sox await word on Adrian Beltre, who rolled up on his left wrist in a dive Saturday night.

Beltre was sent to MGH on Sunday morning to get checked out, manager Terry Francona said. If he comes through whatever exams he gets OK and he wants to play, Francona will let him. Otherwise, Lowrie will get the start at third, Francona said.

Updates on this to come in a bit. 

Just a side note. You can tell it is nearly football season in a year that may not see the Sox play postseason baseball. The press box is almost barren. Those outlets that normally have three or four people for every Red Sox game have just one, or in some cases none. But we’re here and will be eagerly monitoring Jon Lester’s bid for an 18th win.

10 a.m.: The Red Sox entered a three-game series with the then-reeling Toronto Blue Jays in need of a sweep. They enter the finale of the series Sunday afternoon just looking to avoid one.

After suffering back-to-back painful losses to start the series the Sox turn to Jon Lester to get back in the win column. He has won four straight starts, striking out at least 10 in each outing.

Boston is 7 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay in the wild card race. Just 14 games remain.

First pitch is 1:35 p.m.

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