Jon Lester finally gets his wish tonight; the focus will be solely on his performance as it relates to baseball, and not as it relates to what doctors told him about his body 11 months ago. (Of course, if we keep saying how cancer finally won’t be the focus for this start, isn’t cancer in fact still the focus?)
While we were impressed, and we thought Lester did a fine job, especially given the circumstances, you’ll have to forgive us if in the calm light of day, we feel a little like Chad Finn — three walks and a hit-batsman is a bit too much like last season’s Lester for our tastes. If he can’t gain command of his pitches, Lester will never fulfill the elite-prospect status he had before his callup, and he may start putting up more starts like he had immediately before his diagnosis — starts we were willing to give him a pass on, considering we just don’ know when the cancer started affecting his ability to pitch.
On the other side, the Devil Rays send up James Shields — who put up an impressive negative-three game score against the Yankees last time out. That’s the fourth-worst game score put up by any starter this season, but lest we get too cocky, two of the other three are Ryan Feierabend (5 IP, 0 ER vs. the Sox) and Jon Garland (4.11 ERA this season).
Random news: Ken Rosenthal says the Sox had a three-way trade in place for Jermaine Dye, but it fell through. Are we really going to bench J.D. Drew five months into a four-year, likely untradeable contract? The idea is that Dye would collect enough at-bats between spelling Drew vs. lefties and giving Manny and Ortiz breathers. I think Wily Mo Pena might have something to say about that idea.
Dustin Pedroia is out with a pain in his side, says he’ll be back tomorrow.
Stats since the All-Star break
- SS Julio Lugo — .344/.375/.475
- 1B Kevin Youkilis — .189/.313/.283
- DH David Ortiz — .354/.426/.542
- LF Manny Ramirez — .421/.500/.807
- RF J.D. Drew — .186/.280/.279
- 3B Mike Lowell — .333/.387/.439
- C Jason Varitek — .194/.286/.306
- CF Coco Crisp — .359/.397/.516
- 2B Alex Cora — .133/.188/.200
SP Jon Lester — 1-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 6 K, 6 IP
- 3B Akinori Iwamura — .259/.328/.621
- SS Brendan Harris — .235/.328/.314
- CF B.J. Upton — .431/.524/.667
- 1B Carlos Pena — .246/.368/.526
- RF Delmon Young — .362/.413/.466
- DH Ty Wigginton — .319/.400/.574
- LF Jonny Gomes — .189/.205/.216
- 2B Josh Wilson — .344/.371/.531
- C Josh Paul — no PA (.245/.302/.245 in 1st half)
SP James Shields — 1-2, 9.37 ERA, 1.96 WHIP, 5 K, 16.1 IP