Jon Lester hadn't been receiving much run support from his offense in recent weeks. But, on Wednesday, the Red Sox No. 1 starter finally received the backing he deserved.
The Red Sox offense, which had scored a combined eight runs over Lester's past three starts, blasted through Blue Jays ace Ricky Romero and put up double digit runs during a Lester outing for the first time all season.
Lester battled through seven innings of work, allowing seven hits and four runs, and rode on the coattails of the Sox offense to a 10-4 win — his fifth victory of the season.
While Lester's numbers might not reflect that of an ace — a 5-5 record with 4.53 ERA — his stuff has been stellar as of late. Lester has displayed some elite command and increased velocity in recent outings that have improved his rate of success on the mound.
In his past four starts, Lester has shown excellent control of each of his pitches. He's throwing 66 percent of his pitches for strike and getting hitters to swing and miss at a higher rate even, striking out nearly seven batters per game over the stretch, which overshadows the underwhelming 4.4 he averaged in his 12 starts prior.
"He hasn't been getting runs," Valentine said of the Red Sox recent inability to score with Lester on the hill. "We got him runs right off the bat and he did the rest. He threw the ball very well today."
Valentine isn't the only one to notice, though, as Lester himself commented on his added confidence and increased trust in his pitches.
"It's more or less just trusting the stuff, [knowing] that I've got better stuff and see what happens," Lester said, finally able to appreciate a victory. "A win is a win, no matter how you look at it."
Lester has been his biggest critic this season, viewing his outings in a very negative light and expecting more from himself in each performance. But while he continues to search for the same pitcher that finished fourth in the Cy Young voting back in 2010, his pitching arsenal just continues to look sharper.
Lester may not be on track to lock down any Cy Young votes or even an All-Star spot this season, but given his unwavering commitment to improve and the budding confidence in his pitches he can certainly assert himself as the ace of this Boston staff. A void the Red Sox appear desperate to fill.
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