Jon Lester harnesses emotions long enough to come out on top against Indians

June 12, 2014 - 9:41 pm
Jon Lester felt the frustration of the Red Sox' woes Thursday night, even in the midst of one of his strongest outings of late. With one on and two out and the Sox holding a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth, Cleveland's Yan Gomes hit a rocket to third that was mishandled by Brock Holt, giving the Indians their first runner in scoring position of the game. The play was ruled a hit, but Lester let out his irritation with an animated response to Holt's misplay on a ball that would've ended the inning had it been caught. The Red Sox were coming off a 2-7 road trip, including a three-game series in Baltimore in which the Sox scored just one run, so such frustration could be expected from the left-hander. But instead of turning that frustration into a meltdown, Lester forced Mike Aviles to fly out in foul territory to get out of the inning and preserve the shutout and the Red Sox' lead. It was the type of response the Sox needed from Lester, who held the Indians to two runs --€”€“ one earned -- on eight hits, a walk and four strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings to lead the slumping Red Sox to a much-needed 5-2 win at Fenway Park. Lester (7-7) directed the heat of the moment at himself after the game. "€œI think that'€™s where the frustration boils over is just grinding and grinding and continuing to make pitches and balls are just getting in the grass and take a weird hop and kind of get up on a guy," he said. "Obviously you could see frustration from me. That'€™s in no way, shape or form towards my teammates. I think we'€™re all frustrated at the way things have been going. "I showed my emotions, and I made sure I talked to Brock to make sure he knows that was no way directed at him. It'€™s just a continuing thing where you'€™re just grinding and trying to win. When stuff happens it kind of just adds to the pot. "For me, sometimes I've got to let it out. If I don'€™t, sometimes it boils over into bad pitches." Manager John Farrell was pleased with the way his ace responded. "There'€™s some frustration with a number of guys, and I think Jon showed it," he said. "He had a chance to talk about it. But nonetheless he gets a big out to shut down that one inning. "To me, that'€™s the most important thing. How do you respond and react to some situations that are unfolding around them? And he did well by shutting it off." Lester's 4 1/3 innings Saturday in Detroit marked his shortest outing of the season. On Thursday, he took command from the start, striking out three of the first four batters he faced and holding Cleveland to three hits and four baserunners through the first five innings. Lester threw 72 of his 109 pitches for strikes, and allowed just one extra-base hit for the game. The win gives him a 2-0 record with a 0.61 ERA in his last two home starts. "He was very powerful in the first three or four innings," Farrell said. "He got a number of big strikeouts early on. "Jon was strong. He worked ahead in the count, the one walk issued, he didn't contribute to their cause. Even though they've got a number of left-handed hitters in that lineup, they swing the bat well against lefties. And he and David Ross once again combined to have a very good game plan executed." Lester's only troubles came in the sixth inning when his own error jump-started an Indians two-run inning. Michael Bourn reached base on Lester's missed catch at first base, and Michael Brantley moved him to third on a double down the left-field line. Jason Kipnis plated both runners with a single through the hole at second base to cut the Sox' lead to 3-2 at the time. But Lester once again responded well to the adversity. He got Nick Swisher to ground into a force-out with runners on first and second to end the sixth, then retired four of the next six batters he faced before being replaced by Junichi Tazawa with two outs in the eight. '€œIt was good. A win is a win," Lester said. "It was a bit of a grind. Good-hitting team. Luckily some of the mistakes I did make were just singles. It was good." Given his and his team's inconsistency as of late, it was good enough to at least get the Red Sox moving in the right direction.