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?
Earlier, Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge more or less cemented what we already knew: that he doesn’t have any interest in defending his Home Run Derby title in July when the All-Star festivities are held at Nationals Park. It sounds like Red Sox outfielders Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are on the same anti-Derby page.
When asked if he had any interested in participating in the Derby, Betts said (via Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe), “Hell no. I don’t hit home runs in BP. Can you imagine me going against Aaron Judge?” Betts was told Judge won’t be participating, then asked if that changed his mind. He said, “Hell no. I’m not that kind of hitter.”
Martinez won’t participate but for a different reason. He’s still upset he was passed over for inclusion in the Derby in 2015. Martinez said, “MLB didn’t want me. I figured I’d have the option of doing it and they said no. They had other guys they wanted, all these young guys. I was like, ‘Forget it. I’ll never do it.'”
Betts and Martinez have been two of baseball’s best hitters thus far. Betts entered Wednesday’s action batting .368/.439/.772 with an MLB-best 16 home runs along with 35 RBI, 49 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases. Martinez is hitting .343/.399/.674 with 15 home runs and 41 RBI.