Jon Lester struck out a career-high 15 batters and allowed just one hit over eight scoreless innings this afternoon in a 6-3 victory over the Athletics in Fenway Park in Boston.
It was a dominant performance from Lester, who walked two batters on the day and gave up his lone hit on a single by Craig Gentry in the third inning. The southpaw struck out the final three batters he faced in the eighth inning and was pulled after throwing 119 pitches. The A’s made things interesting after Chris Capuano took over in the top of the ninth inning, but Koji Uehara managed to snuff out the rally to secure the victory, albeit in shaky fashion.
Lester’s previous career-high for strikeouts was 13, which he did on July 24, 2010 against the Mariners. The 30-year-old is the first Red Sox pitcher to strike out 15 batters in a game since Pedro Martinez did it in 2000.
Lester, an impending free agent, now holds a 2.59 ERA and 58/10 K/BB ratio in 48 2/3 innings over seven starts this season. Perhaps the Red Sox should have been a bit more generous during extension talks in the spring?
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.