Red Sox Live Blog: Jon Lester Dominates With 10-Strikeout Performance As Sox Blank Phillies 6-0

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Red Sox Live Blog: Jon Lester Dominates With 10-Strikeout Performance As Sox Blank Phillies 6-0Final, Red Sox 6-0: That's a nice trip to Clearwater for the Red Sox.

Ross Ohlendorf surrenders a single to Pete Orr in the bottom of the ninth, but he's able to make the most of it by inducing Hector Luna to ground into a game-ending double play.

The big story, of course, was Jon Lester. It was by far the best outing of the spring for Lester, as he worked a spring-high seven scoreless innings, giving up just two hits. Just as importantly, Lester didn't issue a single walk, though he did hit Jimmy Rollins in the second inning. 

Aside from those three baserunners, that was it for any sort of "damage" against Lester who had it all going on. He mixed his pitches tremendously well, throwing everything — his fastball, breaking ball, cutter and changeup — all for strikes. The result was a 10-strikeout performance in which nine of those punchouts were of the swinging variety.

Mix in some displays of power from Dustin Pedroia, Cody Ross and Mauro Gomez, and you have yourself a real good day at the park for the Red Sox.

Mid 9th, Red Sox 6-0: Mauro Gomez hit 24 home runs last season at the Triple-A level, so he definitely has some pop. He's shown that pop this spring as well, including going deep in this one.

He took Tyson Brummett deep for his second round-tripper of the spring, and in the process, gives the Sox a 6-0 lead.

He's not going to make the Opening Day roster, but if the Sox have Gomez in Pawtucket, he could be someone they call upon if there are any injuries at the big club.

End 8th, Red Sox 5-0: Matt Albers picks up right where Jon Lester left off.

The big righty came in and posted a perfect eighth inning, treating a trio of Philadelphia minor leaguers to a couple of groundouts and a strikeout. 

Mid 8th, Red Sox 5-0: Time to empty the benches. The Sox go quietly in the eighth, despite an infield single from Ronald Bermudez. He wears No. 94, so that's all you really need to know about Ronald Bermudez.

Matt Albers will work the eighth for Boston.

End 7th, Red Sox 5-0: The ESPN crew indicated that Bobby Valentine said Jon Lester's day would probably be done after 90 pitches. He's at 88 through seven innings, so he's probably done.

If that's the case, then what a performance today from the Red Sox' Opening Day starter.

Lester dominated from the beginning, as he pounded the strike zone all day long. Of those 88 pitches, 64 of them were strikes. That's a recipe for success.

If we dig a little deeper into the box score, we'll find that of the seven innings Lester pitched, six of them were 1-2-3 frames. The only blemishes came in the second when Lester gave up a pair of hits and hit a man, but was helped by a textbook relay that gunned down a runner at the plate.

Here's his line:

7 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 10 K, 88 pitches (64 strikes)

That's good.

Mid 7th, Red Sox 5-0: If you're a Phillies fan who happened to stumble into our live blog community, we finally have some good news.

Chad Qualls just pitched a very good inning. The veteran reliever sent Pedroia, Ortiz and Ross down in order and made it look easy in the process.

Then again, the Sox could have it in cruise control with a rush-hour drive down the coast waiting for them. Then again, do Pedroia, Ortiz and Ross strike you as the type of guys that would give up anything at the plate, regardless of the situation? Probably not.

End 6th, Red Sox 5-0: There are only so many ways you can say a pitcher is dominating an offense. Jon Lester is making us find just about every way possible.

The Red Sox ace is mowing the Phillies down, and he just tossed another perfect frame. He's now retired 10 in a row, as he's through six scoreless innings.

It's unclear whether or not he's done at this point — he's still sitting in the dugout — but if his day is done, it's an impressive one.

Mid 6th, Red Sox 5-0: Remember when we said that Jose Iglesias struggles with patience at the plate? Well, he just walked. On four pitches.

The pitches weren't exactly close, but still, he didn't swing at them. So that's good for him.

He advanced to third on a Jason Repko single (on a hit and run no less), but was kept there.

The Sox had a chance to get a run in with the runner at third and just one out, but Hector Noris got inside on Lars Anderson, not allowing him to lift the ball to the outfield, and getting a weak popout to short.

Meanwhile, Nick Punto looks absolutely lost at the plate, after striking out for the third time already. He's had a couple of puzzling swings, swings so bad that it makes you wonder how well he's seeing the ball out the pitcher's hand.

End 5th, Red Sox 5-0: What else can you say about Jon Lester's outing thus far? He's been simply dominant.

Lester just sleepwalked through a perfect fifth inning, as he added another strikeout for good measure.

He knows the games will start to matter soon, and it looks like he's really trying to put together all of his pitches in this one, and the results are certainly there. Through five, he's allowed just two hits, hasn't walked anyone, hit a batter and he's struck out seven. 

Mid 5th, Red Sox 5-0: Phillies fans must hate Cody Ross.

The outfielder killed the Phillies in the 2010 NLCS on his way to winning the series MVP, and he just got the Phils again. This time, it was a two-run blast to left to give the Sox a 5-0 lead. The homer brought around David Ortiz who was on with his own RBI single.

I tend to think that Sox fans will really like Ross. He's a guy who plays hard every day which fans will eat up, but he's also got some pretty noticeable pop. He's a dead-pull hitter, so there's a good chance that he'll wear out the Monster this summer.

End 4th, Red Sox 2-0: Jon Lester loos a lot like the guy who will be making a start on Opening Day right now.

The big left-hander is mowing down the Phillies, and he's getting a ton of swings and misses at this point. He's got six strikeouts and five have been of the swinging variety.

That's probably a pretty good indication of where his stuff is at. We're getting toward the end of spring training, and hitters have at-bats under their belts. In other words, their timing should be coming around now, which makes Lester's dominance thus far even more impressive.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 2-0: Was critical of Jose Iglesias' first at-bat, so we must give credit where credit is due and mention that he singled through the left side in his second at-bat.

One thing you'll notice about Iglesias: He's not afraid to swing the bat. He's seen four pitches already, and he's made some sort of attempt (checked or full) to swing. He looks a bit impatient at the plate, which is one of the weaknesses he has offensively. Remember, he's walked just 38 times in his first two minor league seasons, so that has to be something the Sox are going to want him to fix at some point.

End 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: The Red Sox may or may not be focusing more on the fundamentals this spring compared to spring trainings past, but if they are, it just showed.

The Sox executed a brilliant relay play to gun down Lou Montanez at the plate to keep the Phillies off the board. Freddy Galvis laced one down the left-field line, where Cody Ross gathered it, spun, and threw a dart to Jose Iglesias. From there, Iglesisas turned and fired it home to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Saying the throw was perfect doesn't do it just, as it hit Saltalamacchia (who had the plate blocked perfectly) right in the chest as he tagged out Montanez. 

The Sox still lead 2-0 after three.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 2-0: Joe Blanton settles in nicely in the third after a rough start in the first two frames getting the Sox in order. 

Not only that, he was able to turn back the heart of the Boston order, getting Pedroia, David Ortiz and Cody Ross to go down.

End 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: At the end of the day, spring training results don't mean much to Jon Lester. That being said, he probably wanted to bounce back after a rough outing against Pittsburgh his last time out.

So far, he has.

Lester has it going on early, and he just sent the Phillies down in order again, this time with a pair of strikeouts to top off his second perfect frame of the afternoon.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 2-0: The Red Sox have looked pretty good on the bases this spring, and it helped them out in the second.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled to begin the inning, and when Ryan Sweeney roped a single of his own, Saltalamacchia went from first to third. That proved to be important when Jose Iglesias then hit a ground ball to shortstop. Jimmy Rollins bobbled it and everyone was safe, but even if they had turned the double play, Saltalalamacchia's hustle would have resulted in a run regadless.

At the risk of sounding a jerk, though, Iglesias looked clueless during his at-bat. The young shortstop flailed at two breaking balls with half-hearted swings before hitting what should have been a double play to short.

End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: We mentioned in the pregame how important this start may be for Jose Iglesias. That has to do more with what he does at the plate than in the field.

The slick-fielding shortstop was busy in the first inning, as he had to gobble up a pair of ground balls. Unsurprisingly, both efforts were flawless and it helped Jon Lester to a 1-2-3 inning. 

Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Once upon a time, Dustin Pedroia seemingly tried to pull everything. Those days are long gone.

The second baseman hit a ball about as hard as you can for a home run to right field off of Joe Blanton to get the Sox on the board in the first. 

The ball was a legitimate opposite-field rocket that got out in a hurry. If Pedroia is doing that, you know he's going good.

1:04 p.m.: A trip to Clearwater now means a trip to see Jonathan Papelbon for the Red Sox. 

The new Phillies closer ruffled some feathers a couple of weeks ago when he made comments that many perceived to a slight at Red Sox fans.

Papelbon attempted to clear up those comments Monday.

"I wasn't trying to offend nobody, man," he said, according to the Boston Herald. "I was just calling a spade a spade. I've been in the bullpen down there many times in Boston to know this [fan] don't have a clue what he's talking about. It happens in Philadelphia, too. I've been in Philadelphia's bullpen. I was just simpy saying that, because the American League is different than the National League, there's a little more thought process that goes along with that."

We're just moments from the first pitch.

11:45 a.m.: One of the storylines that's yet to be resolved this spring is the matter of the everday shortstop once the season begins. 

Mike Aviles, who is actually listed as a third baseman on the team's website, is showing he wants the job. In his last four games, he's 8-for-14. And while he'll never be the defensive wizard that Jose Iglesias is, Aviles has been more than adequate at short this spring.

On the other hand, Iglesias — Monday's starter against the Phillies — has left a lot to be desired at the plate. His reputation with the bat was never anything to brag about to begin with, but he's struggled again this March. He'll enter Monday's game hitting .174 for the spring on the heels of a 1-for-13 skid. However, there are plenty who think the Boston lineup is good enough to sacrifice the offense that Aviles would supply in order to get Iglesias on the field at the major league level once the season starts.

Regardless, it may not be overstating things too much to say that Monday's start is a big one for Iglesias to snap out of his slump and really make this a competition.

10:23 a.m.: Here's how the Phillies will start against Jon Lester.

Jimmy Rollins, SS
Placido Polanco, 3B
Shane Victorino, CF
Ty Wigginton, 1B
John Mayberry, LF
Carlos Ruiz, C
Luis Montanez, RF
Freddy Galvis, 2B
Joe Blanton, P

8 a.m.: The Phillies went to Fort Myers on Saturday and took it to the Red Sox, and Boston will look to return the favor on Monday afternoon in Clearwater.

The Sox will travel up Florida's West Coast on Monday to take on the Phillies, and they'll do so with left-handed ace Jon Lester set to take the mound.

Lester is making his third start of the spring, and he's looking to be a little bit better than he was in his last start. The Opening Day starter went just three innings giving up four runs on eight hits and a pair of walks in a March 21 loss to the Pirates in Bradenton.

Matt Albers, Scott Atchison, Ross Ohlendorf, Justin Thomas and Justin Germano are all among the pitchers making the trip as well.

Right-hander Joe Blanton will get the start for the Phils. 

Here's the Boston lineup he'll face:

Nick Punto, 3B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Cody Ross, LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Jose Iglesias, SS
Jason Repko, CF
Lars Anderson, 1B

First pitch from Bright House Field is set for 1:05 p.m.

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