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Lester's gem still drawing raves

5/4/2014

BOSTON -- A day after recording a career-high 15 strikeouts, Boston Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester’s gem was still creating a buzz around Fenway Park.

“That’s a rare performance,” manager John Farrell said Sunday. “The thing that still stands out is that combination of power and command. When you see the location and the quality of location of pitches inside the strike zone, that’s what’s pretty remarkable. To maintain that kind of power through a full eight innings and nearly 120 pitches ... he got into a very good rhythm early and carried it all the way through.”

Lester let up just one hit -- a single -- and walked two in the effort, which placed him among Red Sox and baseball greats on several notable lists, many of which included Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson. Farrell made note of the remarkable achievements on the part of Martinez while he was with the Red Sox, and wondered how many more times Lester would be able to match previous legends.

While Lester had special stuff when Farrell served as his pitching coach from 2007-10, the lefty has a more complete game now.

“He’s much more consistent to the arm side of the strike zone now than he was at the time,” Farrell said of Lester’s younger days. “He was a guy that pitched almost to half of the plate. Because he has that capability of pitching to both sides of the plate now it spreads it wider to the eye of the hitter and seemingly they have to protect a greater area. When you combine that with low- to mid-90s stuff, you’re seeing a pitcher that’s going to probably keep a game in command and potentially dominate. That’s what took place yesterday.”

Lester and Martinez are the only Red Sox pitchers in the last 100 years with eight career starts allowing one or no hits. He is the third lefty in baseball over the past century to have at least 15 strikeouts while allowing one or no hits, joining Johnson and Warren Spahn. Only Lester, Martinez and Smoky Joe Wood have accomplished the feat among all Red Sox pitchers.