Game 122: Red Sox at Blue Jays - Lester aims to stay perfect against Jays
Ben Whitehead Contributing Writer
Jon Lester may be more excited about tonight’s start than anybody would be against the last-place Toronto Blue Jays. For the Red Sox starter, there’s a fairly simple reason. Lester dominates the Jays. Against Toronto this season, Lester is 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in four starts. His season ERA is over a run and a half higher (4.37) than that versus the birds from the Great White North. Against the rest of the league, Lester is an even .500 at 7-7 (he is 10-7 overall).
Lester leads the Boston Red Sox (72-49) into Game 2 at the Rogers Centre. The Sox scored another comeback win Tuesday and upped their AL East lead over the Tampa Bay Rays to four games, their largest in over a month. The Jays (54-65) are just trying to finish the season with something positive, but they were dealt more bad news – or maybe it wasn’t so bad. Josh Johnson has been placed on the DL with forearm soreness and is going in for an MRI. Johnson was scheduled to start tonight, but some may think it’s a relief that he is not, as he has a 2-8 record with a 6.20 ERA this year. That’s not the ace Toronto fans expected to get in the mega deal of the offseason with the Marlins.
Regardless of who the Jays have thrown this season, it seems like everyone has teed off, particularly the Sox, who are 9-5 against Toronto. Boston has won three of the four previous series and shoots for a fourth series win tonight along with winning the season series with its 10th win against the Jays.
Here is tonight’s Red Sox lineup (first pitch – 7:07 pm EDT):
1. Ellsbury, CF 2. Victorino, RF 3. Pedroia, 2B 4. Ortiz, DH 5. Gomes, LF 6. Drew, SS 7. Napoli, 1B 8. Saltalamacchia, C 9. Middlebrooks, 3B Lester, P
The Blue Jays will start Esmil Rogers in place of Johnson. Rogers is only slightly better in the stats department, with a 3-7 record and 5.12 ERA. Rogers received a no-decision in a spot start against Boston in June. He struck out six and didn’t give up a run in six innings. The Blue Jays won that day, 6-2.
On time Flyin’ Hawaiian Shane Victorino had one hit in five at-bats, but the hit was the most crucial of Tuesday’s game. Victorino singled up the middle to score two runs in the top of the 11th inning, giving Boston its 4-2 extra-inning win. Timely hitting has been the name of the game this season for the Red Sox, who seemingly come up with the clutch hit night after night. The magic of it all is that it always seems to be a different player stepping up each time.
Winning at last
Of the Sox 72 wins, 19 of them have come in their final at-bat. That’s a 26% rate, meaning the team has won over a quarter of its games in the most crucial moments. The Sox have the best record in the American League and it’s a tribute to the team’s chemistry and never give up attitude as to how they’ve won so many games late.
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