Shin-Soo Choo’s double to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning killed any potential no-hitter drama. But by that point, the Boston Red Sox had built a 6-0 lead. and Jon Lester knew exactly what he needed to do to earn a win against the Texas Rangers.
Lester answered Yu Darvish’s near-no-hitter in Friday’s series opener at Globe Life Park in Arlington with a very workmanlike performance in Saturday’s middle game. The left-hander completed seven innings to guide the Red Sox to an 8-3 win in which Boston’s offense received contributions from up and down the lineup.
“Just because Lester’s on the mound, or our ace is on the mound, (it’s not like) we’re going to go out there and take it easy that night,” said Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino, who went 3-for-4 with four RBIs on Saturday. “No, we want to get ahead, and we want to score as many runs as we can — whether it be one or five — for whoever’s on the mound.”
The Red Sox’s offense was the big story, but Lester’s effort was admirable. It wasn’t as flashy as Darvish’s near-perfecto, and it wasn’t as dominant as Lester’s last start against the Oakland Athletics — in which he struck out a career-high 15 over eight shutout innings — but it was a solid outing that Boston needed after Clay Buchholz failed to make it out of the fifth inning Friday.
“It’s very important,” Lester said of stepping up after Friday’s loss. “That’s always in the back of our minds when something like that happens. We always talk about picking guys up. … That’s the next guy’s job (after a short start) is to pick him up and make sure we don’t tax our bullpen too much.”
Lester gave up three earned runs on four hits while striking out eight and walking three. He ran into some trouble in the fourth inning after retiring the first nine hitters he faced, but the nine-year veteran made sure things didn’t snowball and kept the game under control despite his occasional hiccups.
“With the exception of the one inning where they were able to chip away a couple runs on Jon, he was as in command as he’s been throughout the course of the season,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Just a well-played game all the way around.”
Lester lowered his ERA to 2.75 with Saturday’s performance, which was uneventful when stacked up against Darvish’s gem yet just as effective in terms of leading his team to victory.