It wasn't merely the breeze blowing in from McCovey Cove that gave the feeling of April baseball here last night. It also was the performance of Jon Lester. With the Red Sox requiring a pick-me-up after their day-of-game cross-country flight Lester delivered 8-1/3 scoreless innings in a series-opening 7-0 win over the Giants. He retired 16 of the first 18 batters didn't permit a runner to advance beyond second base and allowed only six hits two of which came in the ninth inning and cost him a chance to complete his fourth career shutout. If you didn't know better you'd have thought it was a replay of one of his April starts. "Coming out of the All-Star break he's been back close to the form he started the season with" manager John Farrell said. "And we're going to need that from him." Indeed Lester is 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA since the break and that includes a six-run beating by the Diamondbacks on Aug. 2 at Fenway Park. It's reminiscent of his first nine starts of the season when he went 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA. And considering the big lefty entered the All-Star break on an 11-start skid in which he posted a 6.27 ERA it seems one of the Red Sox' most underrated decisions was rearranging the rotation in order to give him a nine-day midseason breather. "I think any time you go through some struggles having a break helps" Lester said. "Getting away whether it’s one off-day or whether it’s the All-Star break I think that really helped just kind of getting me back to neutral as far as just pounding my head against the wall with pitch selection or mechanics or whatever it may be at that particular time. I feel like that was a good mental break for me. I felt fresh when I came back." In an attempt to stay as fresh as possible after playing Sunday night at Fenway Park the Red Sox consulted Dr. Charles Czeisler chief of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hopsital. And he recommended that they wait until 10:30 a.m. yesterday to make their cross-country haul rather than taking an overnight flight after Sunday’s game. Czeisler reasoned that the players wouldn’t be as tired if they slept in their own beds even if the unorthodox itinerary required that they go directly from the airport to AT&T Park to prepare for last night's game. Turns out Czeisler may be on to something. Although Lester did fly ahead of the team and looked well-rested the rest of the late-arriving Red Sox hardly appeared jet-legged. They were opportunistic on offense taking advantage of a balk and a catcher’s interference call to push across three runs in the second inning against Giants starter Tim Linecum. If anything the Red Sox exhibited more energy than the Giants. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew notched RBI doubles while Daniel Nava and Shane Victorino picked up three hits apiece. The Sox were typically aggressive on the bases hardly looking like the team that didn't complete an emotional three-game series against the rival Yankees until almost 12:30 yesterday morning.
Jon Lester leads Red Sox over Giants
Boston Herald | Aug 20