Top 10 most memorable moments of Jon Lester's career with the Red Sox

July 31, 2014 - 7:02 am
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It was not the ending Jon Lester and the Red Sox probably had in mind.

The left-hander had said before the 2014 season that he'd like to spend his career with the Red Sox and would be willing to take a hometown discount to return to Boston.

Just months later, Lester's Red Sox career is over.

The Sox traded their ace to the Athletics on Thursday, after it became more likely by the day that Lester, whose contract expires at the end of the season, would not be back next season thanks to some failed attempts at negotiations on both sides.

Lester's Red Sox career may have ended in bitter fashion. But his time is Boston was filled with unforgettable moments -- both good and bad -- that included two World Series championships, chicken and beer and a heroic comeback after battling cancer.

Here are the top 10 moments from Lester's Red Sox career.

10. May 3, 2014: Lester strikes out career-high 15 batters in win over A's

Even in a tough start to the Red Sox' season, Lester continued to add to his individual achievements with a career-high 15 strikeouts in a 6-3 win over his future team. He allowed just one hit and two walks in eight shutout innings to improve his record to 3-4 for the year.

"Just the combination of power and command was impressive," manager John Farrell said after the game. "He was locked in seemingly from the first pitch."

9. May 10, 2013: Lester allows one hit in complete-game shutout of Blue Jays

The 2012 season was arguably the worst of Lester's career, but he made it perfectly clear that 2013 was going to be different by winning his first six decisions, including a one-hit, complete-game shutout of the Blue Jays. Lester threw 118 pitches, allowing no walks and striking out five in a 5-0 Red Sox win.

8. July 13, 2010: Lester plays in first All-Star Game

For all he had achieved with the Red Sox in his young career, Lester was rewarded in 2010 when he was named to the American League All-Star team for the first time. It was a well-deserved selection, as Lester was one of the league's top pitchers at 11-2 with a 2.78 ERA at the All-Star break.

Lester was strong in his All-Star debut. He tossed a clean 1-2-3 inning of relief in a 3-1 National League win.

7. Oct. 19, 2008: Lester, Red Sox fall to Rays in Game 7 of ALCS

There was no questioning Lester's brilliance in the 2008 ALDS. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, he couldn't carry that over against the Rays in the league championship series.

Lester was hit hard for four runs in a 9-1 Rays win in Game 3, but could make up for it when he was given the ball in Game 7 with a chance to send the Sox to their second straight World Series.

Lester got some early run support thanks to a solo homer by Dustin Pedroia in the first inning, but the lefty couldn't hang on to the slim lead. He allowed three runs on six hits with eight strikeouts over seven innings, and was outdueled by a dominant Matt Garza to fall to 0-2 for the series.

6. Oct. 1 and 6, 2008: Lester dominates Angels in ALDS

Lester was called upon not just to be a key part of the Red Sox' 2008 postseason run, but also to be the leader of a staff gunning for a title defense.

Lester delivered against the Angels in the ALDS, pitching 14 innings without allowing an earned run to lift the Sox to a 3-1 series win.

The lefty took the ball in Game 1 and outdueled Angels ace and future Sox teammate John Lackey over seven innings. He held L.A. to one unearned run on six hits and seven strikeouts for the win. Lester dominated the Angels again in Game 4 five days later with seven shutout innings for a no-decision in the series clincher.

5. September 2011: Lester, Red Sox crumble amidst chicken and beer controversy

September 2011 was one of the most forgettable months in Red Sox history since the turn of the century, and Lester was right in the center of it.

Like a number of Red Sox players, Lester had one of his worst individual months that September, going 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in six starts. The lefty was shelled Sept. 24, 2011, against the Yankees, allowing eight runs on eight hits in just 2 2/3 innings in a 9-1 blowout loss. Lester took a no-decision in the season finale as the Sox lost 4-3 to the Orioles to miss the playoffs after a 7-20 September record.

The nightmare wasn't over after the season ended, however. Next came a flurry of speculation as to what led to such an incredible collapse. A Boston Globe story cited Lester and other members of the Sox rotation drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games.

Lester was the first to speak out about the accusations.

"There's a perception out there that we were up there getting hammered, and that wasn't the case," Lester told the Globe at the time. "Was it a bad habit? Yes. I should have been on the bench more than I was. But we just played bad baseball as a team in September. We stunk. To be honest, we were doing the same things all season when we had the best record in baseball."

4. Oct. 23 and 28, 2013: Lester wins twice in 2013 World Series

After a roller-coaster five-year period since his World Series-clinching win in 2007, Lester was back in the Fall Classic as the ace of the 2013 Red Sox against the Cardinals. Lester performed exactly how an ace should, allowing just one run in 15 1/3 innings over two starts to help the Sox to their third championship in the last decade and the second of his career. He walked just one batter and struck 15 for the series.

Lester shut down the St. Louis lineup with 7 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 1, surrendering just five hits, one walk and striking out eight in an 8-1 Red Sox win. He showed similar dominance in Game 5. He gave up one run on four hits in 7 2/3 innings for a 3-1 Sox win that put them one win away from a title.

3. May 19, 2008: Lester tosses no-hitter against Royals

At this point, Lester already was a cancer survivor and a World Series champion. But 2008 was his chance to establish himself as the type of player the Sox expected him to be.

Lester sent that message early in the season by pitching the 18th no-hitter in Red Sox history in a 7-0 win over the Royals. Lester walked two batters and threw 130 pitches for not only his first career no-hitter, but also his first complete game and shutout.

"It's something that I'll remember forever, a lot of excitement," Lester said after the game. "I think I had more adrenaline going in the ninth inning than I did in the first inning, which I guess is normal for that situation. It was great. The fans were great; they're on their feet yelling and screaming. It was probably one of the loudest times I've heard Fenway when I've been out there pitching."

2. July 23, 2007: Lester beats Indians in return to big leagues after battle with cancer

This wasn't any ordinary start, win or season debut for Lester. It was the completion of a courageous comeback from an 11-month battle with cancer.

Lester was diagnosed with a treatable form of lymphoma just days after what would be his the start of his rookie year on Aug. 23, 2006. He underwent six chemotherapy sessions over the next few months to wipe out the disease, then went through a lengthy rehab process both on and off the field -- Lester started the season in the minor leagues -- before making it back to the majors.

Lester allowed just two runs on five hits with six strikeouts over six innings in a 6-2 Red Sox win in Cleveland.

"I figured the day would come," Lester said after the game. "I just didn't know when. It's just nice to be back."

1. Oct. 28, 2007: Lester wins World Series clincher against Rockies

Lester was already one of baseball's biggest inspirations in 2007 after his triumphant return in July from a battle with cancer.

By the end of October, he was the last one standing.

At just 23 years old, the lefty pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings to lead the Sox to a 4-3 World Series-clinching win in Game 4 against the Rockies. Lester gave up just three hits and three walks and had three strikeouts for the win.

"I don't think anybody in my position would have done anything different," Lester said after the game. "That being said, if I can help out one person who's down in the dumps because they have cancer and it's not going well, maybe they'll say, 'If he could do it, I can do it.' "

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