Red Sox-Royals: John Lester Leaves His Mark on Baseball

Daniel ChausseContributor IMay 19, 2008

Many people would say that it is impossible to do something more amazing than overcoming cancer.  Still more would agree that beating cancer and coming back to win the last game of the World Series is even more impressive.


When Jon Lester began his warm up tosses in the bullpen on Monday night, it is doubtful that he expected it would be a night for the record books.  Most pitchers just go out and try to give their team the best chance to win on a given night.


But it seems that the 24-year-old Lester was deemed for greatness at least one more time.  He hurled a whopping 130 pitches, racking up nine strikeouts and two walks, and holding the Royals to exactly zero hits.


Sure, many will say that the Royals have been swimming on the bottom of the American League Central for years, but this year’s team is a new and improved team.  They came into Monday’s game as number five in the league in batting, led by AL batting average leader Mark Grudzielanek.


Yet after nine long innings in which the Royals could not even muster a hit, Grudzielanek fell from first to second to an opposing hitter in Monday’s game, Kevin Youkilis. 


Despite Lester’s impressive performance, he was not alone on the field Monday night.  The Red Sox showed their support for Lester by knocking in seven runs on five hits, including a two-run blast by Red Sox catcher, Jason Varitek.


Yet this was not the only way in which the Red Sox captain made himself known on Monday.  Varitek became the first catcher in MLB history to catch four no hitters.


Defense also came into play early in the game, when center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury made an outstanding diving catch to end the fourth inning long before the possibility of a no-no had entered anyone’s mind.


From there on, Lester pitched with precision and control.  It seemed as though nothing would stop the southpaw from becoming the first lefty AL pitcher to throw a no-hitter in over 50 years.  Other than a walk in the ninth inning, Lester did not allow another runner to reach base, and he proceeded to strike out nine batters, three of which came after he had thrown 100 pitches.


By the time that final pitch darted past the bat of Alberto Callaspo, Lester had capped a historic comeback, which included a battle with cancer, a decisive World Series win, and now a no hitter.  As to the fact that the miraculous event took place at historic Fenway Park, Lester said he could not have been happier.


Lester stated, “It’s something that I’ll remember forever…It was great. The fans were great; they’re on their feet yelling and screaming.  It was probably one of the loudest times I’ve heard Fenway when I’ve been out there pitching.”  As to what’s next on the lefty’s agenda and his place in MLB history, that remains to be seen.