- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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Not only was he ready to join his teammates on the duck boats for their rolling rally around the city to celebrate the 2013 World Series victory, the left-handed ace was thrilled the Red Sox exercised the team's $13 million option for his services next season.
"It's awesome," Lester said. "I haven't had a chance to talk to Ben [Cherington] but to obviously be back for another year is awesome. Hopefully that's not the only one and we can be here for a long time. We'll worry about that at a different stage."
Lester was 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA in the regular season, leading the team in games started (33), innings pitched (213 1/3), strikeouts (177) and quality starts (20).
He was 4-1 during Boston's run to the World Series title, winning his starts in Games 1 and 5 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Lester allowed only one run and nine hits in 15 1/3 innings in those starts, and his 0.59 ERA was the best by a Red Sox pitcher making multiple starts in a World Series since Hugh Bedient in 1912 (0.50).
"He's the leader of our pitching staff, our ace," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "The way he threw the ball, especially late in the season, but all year he was a force for us. If we had a losing streak, he stopped it. He's been great all year."
Red Sox manager John Farrell has remained close with Lester ever since the two worked together during Farrell's days in Boston as its pitching coach. The skipper's happy he'll have his ace back for at least one more season.
"That was a foregone conclusion that option would be picked up," Farrell said. "The way he's pitched, not only his entire career here, it's almost like he took it to a whole new level this postseason. He remained strong. He remained calm in a moment when Game 5 was a pivotal moment and he walked to the mound like it was just another game. He pitched with a calmness, a relaxation and was dominant. It was great to see."
Lester, who was selected by the Red Sox in the second round of the 2002 draft, has a 100-56 record with a 3.76 ERA in 221 career regular-season appearances. His 1,237 career strikeouts are the most ever by a Red Sox left-hander.
"I expect a lot of myself, so when I go out and pitch and end up pitching well it doesn't surprise me," Lester said. "It may surprise other people but it doesn't surprise me. I just go out and try to pick up my teammates the best I can and walk off that mound with my head held high. That's all I can do."
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