Monday, July 23, 2007
ALL YOU COULD ASK FOR
You couldn't have picked a better outcome to this game. Jon Lester makes his first MLB start 11 months to the day since his last one, and pitches a solid 6 innings. He allowed 2 runs off 5 hits and 3 walks, striking out 6. He threw 96 pitches, 55 of which were strikes.
The offense supported him before he even took the mound, scoring 4 runs in the 1st, with the big hit being Manny's 2 run double.
The top of the order did their job with Crisp and Pedroia combining for 7 of 10 at the plate. Manny and Youkilis each went 2 for 4. Crisp, Pedroia, and Lugo all extended their hit streaks.
Now, before we get all fuzzy about this game, let's at least try to remember a few things.
Firstly, the Indians didn't arrive in Cleveland until 5 AM this morning after playing in Texas last night. They didn't take BP and probably didn't get much sleep.
Secondly, the Indians didn't know Lester was going to be the starter until we knew. The move made by the Red Sox was kept a secret until the proverbial last minute. Coming into this game, the Indians lineup had a total of 18 at-bats against Lester in the Majors. It's safe to say that they were all unfamiliar with his stuff, and the surprise announcement that he was pitching probably caught them off guard.
Thirdly, the Red Sox were up against Jake Westbrook. Westbrook is a shell of what he was last year. He has one win and an ERA over 6. He typically gets knocked around in the 1st inning, and the Red Sox treated him no differently tonight.
Fourthly, some signs of Lester's biggest problem last year were apparent. Jon was notorious for getting into jams in 2006, but being able to get out of them. That's all well and good, but they always resulted in his pitch count being very high, forcing him to leave games early. In his 15 starts last year, he went more than 6 innings in 2 of them. He had seven 5 inning starts. He had 6 starts lasting 6 innings or more. He averaged 18.57 pitches per inning last year. That simply doesn't bode well for a starting pitcher. In the 4th inning of tonight's game, Lester got himself into a jam, pitched very well to get himself out, but was forced to throw 28 pitches in the process. He pitched very well in this game, but his problem of not being able to pitch very deeply into games was apparent.
I know it seems like I'm being pessimistic and negative, but I'm not. I'm trying to be realistic. Lester pitched well, but it wasn't like he was up against a well-rested and fully prepared Indians lineup. He had 6 good innings, but he also had to work around his own mistakes.
I'll take the win, but Lester still seems to me to be a stop-gap measure until Schilling returns to the rotation.