The Boston Red Sox played a semi-home game against the Baltimore Orioles last night at Camden Yards. Throughout majority of the game, the crowd could be heard chanting, "Let's Go Red Sox". The crowd did an amazing job, cheering Jon Lester through seven innings of shut out baseball. Lester gave up no runs, allowing five hits and no walks with eight strike outs in the win. Lester has been lights out lately, winning four of his last six starts with one no decision. After a rough start to the season, Jon has found his groove and should stay in that zone well after the All-Star break.
During the game it was noticeable that Jon Lester was in command. The one thing that stuck out to myself, the others joining us on our live blog and even Dennis Eckersley in the booth was the percentage of first pitch strikes that Jon Lester was throwing. In the early half of the game, Jon threw 58% first pitch strikes. By the end of the seventh inning, Lester threw 10 first pitch strikes to the 26 batters that he faced (38%).
The Boston offense was also clicking as Jason Bay and Nick Green were the only players to not have a hit in the 4-0 win over the Orioles. The big stick of the game was JD Drew who went 3-5 and a double short of the cycle. Drew hit a 2-run homer in the fourth inning that looked close as it left his bat, both Adam Jones and Nick Markakis made an attempt to jump at the wall for it and neither came down succesfull to give the Red Sox the 4-0 lead that they never gave back.
Papelbon Records Save #132
After the seventh, Terry Francona went to the bullpen with Jon Lester having thrown over his average of 106 pitches. In the eighth inning, Manny Delcarmen got the first two outs, allowed a walk and was taken out for Hideki Okajima to get the final out of the inning. Ramon Ramirez came back in the ninth and also recorded his first two outs to then surrender a single and a walk to bring Jonathan Papelbon in for the one out save situation with the tying run on deck. With the opportunity to tie Bob Stanley's all time Red Sox saves record, Papelbon got Matt Wieters to fly out to Jason Bay in left who made an amazing sliding catch to end the game.
Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 132nd save to tie Bob Stanley's record. With one more save, Paps will be the all time Red Sox save leader in his five year career with Boston. 132 is a lot of games to save, especially considering that Jonathan did not record any of those saves in his first season with Boston. Stanley on the other hand pitched for 13 years with the Red Sox and did not record a save in only two seasons with Boston. The Evolution of the game may play a factor in this somehow, but 132 saves in four years is an accomplishment not to be reckoned with. Papelbon is far from the 500 mark that Yankee closer Mariano Rivera has recently reached, but that doesn't mean a thing to the Red Sox compared to the World Series rings we've collected (one with Paps as the closer). Congratulations to Jonathan and the Red Sox, we've got many more to close out in 2009.
Many Thanks To Those Who Participated
Last nights live blog was extremely fun for me. I'd like to thank everyone that stopped in from the readers to the commentators. Matt Simonini (@Simonini3), Julia (@werbiefitz) and Andrew (@BigAppleChannel) were very entertaining, gave some great feedback and information during the game and also encouraged us to give you more notice for the next live blog.
Thanks to Keith Allison for the picture of Jonathan Papelbon entering the game.