The body of work does not lie. Jon Lester is now an October hero, a Red Sox pitching legend, a postseason ace who last night put the capstone on one of the most dominating postseason pitching runs in not only Red Sox franchise history, but postseason history. The body of work simply says it all. In five postseason starts this year, Lester has gone 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA. In 11 career postseason starts, his ERA is 1.98. In three World Series starts, Lester is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA. The body of work speaks for itself. In an extraordinary season, Lester is no ordinary ace. “He’s our backbone, he’s our horse when he’s out there. We expect a lot out of him; he’s pitching like the ace he is,” said catcher David Ross after the 3-1 victory over the Cardinals pulled the Sox within one win of their third World Series title this century. “He’s locked in. I mean, I knew he had a good chance of doing something special today. His (warmup in the) bullpen was phenomenal before the game. His cutter was probably as good as I’ve caught it this year.” What Lester did was neutralize and disarm a St. Louis lineup that has depth and discipline on its side. To do that, Lester needed to bear down and attack each and every hitter with each and every pitch. There was one mistake — a solo home run by Matt Holliday in the fourth that tied the game at 1 — but otherwise, only the National League site took him out of the game with two outs in the eighth inning. Lester allowed just four hits, walked nobody, and struck out seven on just 91 pitches. The run was the first and only he has allowed in 21 World Series innings. Astute fans recall that Lester was the winning pitcher in the clinching game of the 2007 World Series, Game 4, when he went 52⁄3 scoreless innings. The team’s postseason and even regular-season efforts have been on the decline since 2007. That he is now every bit as responsible for taking the team to the brink of another title as another October legend, David Ortiz, is no accident. “Jon, he came up to the big leagues at a time where we were going to the playoffs and winning World Series, and as a young player, he’s always looking around and trying to improve himself and get better,” said Ortiz. “And I’m pretty sure to him, watching him, those guys, when we won in 2007, you guys saw him perform that year. As a player, he told me straight up that he was going to be the future of the organization, the ace, and there he is, doing what he does, at his best.” Lester has now won consecutive duels against the best pitcher the Cardinals have in Adam Wainwright. That he keeps coming out on top when it matters the most is hardly a surprise anymore. He went 7-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 13 starts after the All-Star break. In October, he’s been even better.
No doubt, an ace in place
Boston Herald | Oct 29