Through 10 starts entering Wednesday's 6-4 win against Detroit, the lefty hadn't surrendered more than eight hits in a game. But the 10 hits and three earned runs Wednesday night weren't indicative of how Lester felt about his pitching arsenal.
"Felt like I did," Lester said of having some of his best stuff. "It’s getting frustrating to have good stuff and get whacked around a little bit. But that being said, more importantly, try to go deep in the game. Guys gave me a chance to win, which is all you can ask for. Bullpen did a great job."
Amid the obstacles, Lester showed perseverance. Despite exhausting his pitches — he tossed 27 in the first inning — and yielding three runs and five hits through three innings, he rebounded in the rest of the game.
In the process, he racked up seven strikeouts. But the most impressive aspect of his no-decision was that he bounced back against Detroit's potent lineup without unleashing his bread-and-butter cutter.
"We hardly used it tonight," Lester said. "We threw a good mix of them, but less than normal. But no, [Kelly Shoppach] did a great job again, making me stay within myself and keep trying to pound the zone and go as deep in the game."
All in all, his 120 pitches and 6 2/3 innings were solid. Considering Lester's early roadblocks, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was more than satisfied shortly after the team's victory.
"I thought he had the best stuff of the year," Valentine said. "Those three runs, let’s say they were a little tainted. He did what he had to do — bow his neck, as they used to say — and put up the zeroes. He did a great job."
But the Tigers remain Lester's Achilles heel. They are the only American League he has never defeated.