Lester And Beckett Looked Like Their Old Selves In Sweep Of Seattle

The Red Sox have desperately needed their pitching to bear down all season long.  They needed Jon Lester and Josh Beckett to string together a run of good starts, they needed Clay Buchholz to do anything and they needed the young guys to maintain.  The Red Sox got all of that this week but the best performances of the week may have come from the team’s top 2 starters, Lester and Beckett.

Lester went the distance against the Mariners on Monday night

Sure it was Seattle but it wasn’t just about the results in the two games – it was about the demeanor and moxie of the two aces.  They’d been missing that swagger that they’ve both showed in the past and it finally came out on Monday and Tuesday.  They pitched angry and were determined to win.  They wouldn’t take no for an answer and when a borderline pitch was called they showed little emotion and went right back to work on the mound and pounded the strike zone.

Lester was excellent going 9 innings on Monday Night.  He was near dominant for the first 5 innings with the only hit being an infield single by Ichiro.  He worked out of jams in the 6th and the 7th and gave up a run in the 9th before closing out the Sox 6-1 win over the Mariners.  You could tell by the end that despite his pitch count rising he was determined to finish the game and he did exactly that, striking out Alex Liddi to end the game.  Lester finished the game with 6 strikeouts and no walks.

Josh Beckett fought through the elements to pitch 7 shutout innings on Tuesday

Josh Beckett was equally as impressive on Tuesday evening with a 7-inning shutout performance against the Mariners.  He was almost as efficient early on as Lester was by setting down the first 9.  Beckett was not flustered in the 4th and 6th when he quickly worked out of jams.  He had the Mariners on their toes all night and finished with 9 strikeouts with 2 walks.  Beckett’s curve ball was on point last night, better than it’s been all season long and he was pounding fastballs inside to hitters at around 93 MPH, something he hasn’t done consistently all season long.  I know 1 start isn’t going to get all of the haters off of his back but it will be interesting how much the fan base softens on him in the coming weeks if he gives more performances like that.  I know a lot of people will say “NEVER!” right now but, face it, we’re a fickle bunch by and large.

The one comforting thing about the last two games was that while the Red Sox were only up 3, 4, 5 runs it felt like we were up by 10.  Combine this kind of pitching with the offense we have and it creates a dynamic that gives our side confidence and at the same time dejects the opposition.  Getting out to early leads is key and we hadn’t been doing that in the early part of the season.  Early leads do wonders if your team’s confidence.

So now the Sox have won 5 in a row and stand at 2 games under .500.  I’m still not totally sold on the pitching but I’d be lying if the “standings watch” at this point of the year was very similar to last year.  In early May there were only 1 or 2 teams with a worse record than us.  Now you look and there is 11.  I remember doing the same thing last year.  I’m not saying the ship is righted but they are definitely trying to turn.  Whether or not they can complete it remains to be seen.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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