Friday’s Red Sox-Diamondbacks matchups: Jon Lester vs. Randall Delgado

August 02, 2013 - 5:19 am
Jon Lester'€™s struggles for most of the 2013 season have been well documented, but as the dog days of summer wear on, the left-hander who has started the last three Opening Days seems to be on an uptick. Each of his last three starts have been better than the one before it, a trend he will look to continue Friday night at Fenway Park when the Red Sox host the Diamondbacks and righty Randall Delgado to open a three-game weekend series. Lester shined in seven innings of shutout ball against a dangerous Orioles lineup Sunday in a 5-0 Sox win. He scattered four hits and two walks while punching out eight Baltimore batters, the second consecutive outing he has tied his season high. He capped his afternoon with a perfect, six-pitch inning to draw praise from manager John Farrell. '€œA Jon Lester pitching to his capabilities is going to be one of the better pitchers in the league,'€ Farrell said afterward. '€œHe'€™s shown it the last couple of times out. Again, I think he'€™s getting a better understanding of the overall pitch mix, how to be most effective. His changeup continues to be a very good weapon for him, and he was efficient again once today.'€ Lester himself was pleased with the scoreless outing, his third of the season but first since May 10. '€œI'€™d say as far as power, I feel like I'€™ve got more of it now,'€ Lester said. '€œIt'€™s just that part of the season where I feel like guys like me and [John Lackey], you get stronger right now, especially with your heater. On the season, Lester has a 4.27 ERA and 1.33 WHIP while striking out nearly eight batters and walking an even three per nine innings. In his last three starts spanning 19 2/3 innings, he has given up five earned runs while fanning 20. Lester doesn'€™t have a ton of experience against the Diamondbacks, with his only other outing against them coming in 2010, but Aaron Hill owns a .261 OPS in 36 plate appearances, one in four of which has resulted in a strikeout. Delgado, meanwhile, has similarly little experience against Sox batters, but he has found success in the major leagues in the last two months after starting 2013 in the minors. In nine games (eight) starts, he has a 2.85 ERA and 1.27 WHIP while limiting opponents to a .283 average. He doesn'€™t strike out a ton of batters, averaging 6.37 per nine innings, but with a 3.2 K/BB rate he has shown good control. In a streak that started July 13, Delgado has tossed 15 consecutive scoreless innings, which includes a 10-0 complete-game shutout of the Padres last Friday. San Diego managed only three hits and a walk in the blowout, with Delgado throwing 70 of his 100 pitches for strikes to drop his ERA more than a full run since the last time he allowed a run. It was the first complete game of Delgado'€™s big league career of parts of three major league seasons. The only previous time he faced the Red Sox was when he was with the Braves in June 2012 and was lit up for four runs on six hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings, highlighted by Dustin Pedroia'€™s two-run double. Delgado was lifted after 56 pitches. Diamondbacks vs. Lester (LHP) Aaron Hill (36 plate appearances): .063 BA/.167 OBP/.094 SLG, 1 double, 1 RBI, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts Jason Kubel (12): .182/.250/.182, 1 RBI, 1 walk Martin Prado (4): .750/.750/1.000, 1 double Miguel Montero (3): .333/.333/.333 Cliff Pennington (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk Wil Nieves (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout Cody Ross (2): .000/.000/.000 No other Diamondbacks batters have faced Lester. Red Sox vs. Delgado (RHP) Shane Victorino (5 plate appearances): .000 BA/.200 OBP/.000 SLG, 1 walk Daniel Nava (2): .000/.500/.000 David Ortiz has one walk in two plate appearances against Delgado. Dustin Pedroia (2): 1.000/1.000/1.5000, 1 double, 2 RBIs Jarrod Saltalamacchia has one single and one walk in two plate appearances against Delgado. No other Red Sox batters have faced Delgado.