Jon Lester Struggles in Start, Disappointed He Wasted ‘Best’ Mechanical Delivery

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Jon Lester Struggles in Start, Disappointed He Wasted 'Best' Mechanical DeliveryBRADENTON, Fla. –– It felt like a spoiled start for Jon Lester.

After the Pirates edged the Red Sox 6-5, the left-hander couldn't savor one of his personal highlights of the spring, primarily because he yielded eight hits and four runs –– through three frames –– in the outing.

"It was more so disappointing that I felt probably the best I've felt mechanically and able to repeat in a long time," said Lester, who tossed 80 pitches. "To waste it is bad. That's the positive from today. I was able to really repeat some things we've been working on — riding the ball just a little bit, just up a little bit."

Lester endured his greatest challenge in the third inning of Wednesday's game, when the Pirates unloaded five straight hits to start the sequence. Pittsburgh third basemen Matt Hague headlined the barrage by belting a two-run shot.

Before being yanked, Lester was impressed with the development of his changeup. So much so, he admitted to being "a little too amped" and misfiring roughly three inches too high.

"It just flattens out just a little bit," Lester said. "That difference of three inches is huge. If I get that ball down three inches, it's a different day. You have days like this. Hopefully you just get rid of them here."

Catcher Jarrod Saltalmacchia also attributed Lester's lengthy and rough outing to another aspect.

"I think what killed us were a lot of foul balls," Saltalamacchia said. "He saw a lot of pitches, they fouled some pitches off, they had some good at-bats."

Despite the pitching results, Lester showed his willingness to embrace Bobby Valentine's philosophy of controlling the running game. At various times –– more than usual –– the lefty fired pick offs to keep the runner honest.

Last season, base runners tallied 14 steals under his watch, a minute amount compared to teammates Josh Beckett and John Lackey.

"We want to establish in spring training that we are going to make a conscious effort this year to control the running game," Lester said. "I'm not just going to go out there and disregard the runner and try to get the hitter out. You have to work on holding runners and doing that sort of thing and also executing pitches at the same time."

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