BOSTON -- While attention deservedly is focused on Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, the newest addition to the Yankees’ constellation making his first start against the Red Sox, the lefty taking the hill for the Sox on Tuesday night has made quite the impact so far this season.
How good has Jon Lester been in 2014? Let Red Sox statman Jon Shestakofsky count the ways. Lester has allowed two earned runs or fewer with at least six strikeouts in all four starts this season. He is just the third Sox pitcher in the last 100 years to begin a season with such a streak. The others are Pedro Martinez, who did it three times (first seven games in 2001, first eight in 2000, first four in 1998) and Roger Clemens (first eight in 1991).
Lester’s streak matches the longest by an American League left-hander to begin a season in over the last 100 years. The only others to do it were Seattle’s Randy Johnson in 1995, Cleveland’s Sam McDowell in 1964, and the Yankees’ Whitey Ford in 1956. Johnson and Ford went on to lead MLB in ERA in their years.
Lester also has been a handful for the Yankees. He has allowed four earned runs or fewer in all 10 of his starts against the Yankees dating back to the beginning of 2012, going 4-2 with a 3.50 ERA (24 ER/61 2/3 IP) in those games. It is the longest such active streak by a left-handed starter against the Yankees. He is 10-5 against New York since the start of 2009, the most wins by any pitcher against the Yankees in that stretch. Tampa Bay’s David Price ranks second on that list (9-5).