Editor's note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine's words. Each game day, we will select a Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.
It's not always about the numbers.
The Red Sox have put up plenty of gaudy statistics this year in games that devolved into ugly losses, but as they've hit their stride lately, production has faded as a talking point. That's because there's no need to clutch at straws and silver linings when wins are rolling in.
Jon Lester's line on Wednesday night wasn't his best in a year where he's thrown a complete game and had a no-run outing. He went into the seventh inning and struck out seven batters but allowed 10 hits and four runs.
But his form on the mound showed enough promise to have his manager talking.
"I thought he had the best stuff of the year tonight," Bobby Valentine said.
For months, the Red Sox had the slimmest margin of error, where a poor performance by a starting pitcher, a bad day for a reliever or a slumping lineup could undo an otherwise good night for the team.
Wednesday night showed how much the Red Sox have grown, as several players produced with their bats and Lester had room to work. Even while giving up more hits than at any point this season, he was still working on his pitches. And his team left the field with a win.
Boston has looked solid against the Tigers, dispatching Detroit with all parts of the offense and the defense. Not much of what the Red Sox have done is a marked difference from the statistics the team posted earlier this season, but the change is evident in the way players approach the game — the jump in their steps and aggressiveness in their bats.
Numbers aside, Lester and his teammates are showing some of their best stuff of the season. The .500 record is now two games in the rearview mirror. They look like they know it's time to pull away.