Lester coming around, although results don't show it

Lester coming around, although results don't show it
August 8, 2012, 4:20 am
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BOSTON -- Jon Lester no longer wants to focus on the negative. He wants to take the positives out of an outing like the one he had on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

The outcome wasn't positive. The Red Sox lost to the Texas Rangers, 6-3. Lester picked up his 10th loss of the season. He is now winless in his last seven starts. And with the latest loss, the Red Sox once again dip below .500.

But still, as much as it may pain some people to find any positives in that, Lester has been a much-improved pitcher in his last three outings. That's why, after allowing four runs on six hits and two walks, while striking out four and throwing 116 pitches in 6.2 innings, Lester is only going to focus on the positives.

"I can't keep talking about being frustrated, and all this stuff," said Lester after the loss. "I mean, it's like beating a dead horse. Everybody obviously knows here that we're frustrated, and we don't like losing. And we just keep -- like I said -- beating a dead horse. But there's positives for me, personally, in this game that I'm going to take. And go forward to the next one."

Despite the loss, Lester's stuff, especially through the first five innings was as good as it's been all season. The Rangers' four runs off Lester came in the sixth and seventh innings, and he left the game while only truly allowing three runs, but Mark Melancon came in to replace him in the seventh with two on and two out, and allowed an RBI single to Ian Kinsler to give Texas a 4-0 lead.

"He threw the ball really well," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "We could nit-pick it all we want, what the heck. He pitched pretty good."

"I think Lester pitched great. I mean, he had every pitch working tonight," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "He kept people off his fastball away by throwing his cutter in. He just pitched an awesome game.

"His stuff was great all night," added Saltalamacchia. "The cutter was just back to where I remember it being. I haven't caught him his last two outings, so, getting back with him tonight, we both had a game plan, we stayed on it. I don't think one of those guys had a real comfortable at-bat with the way he was throwing tonight. Velocity was there, changeup was there, curveball had some really good, sharp bite. I was really happy and proud of him. I though he went out there and pitched a great game."

Lester's cutter -- down and inside to righties -- is devastating when it doesn't break coming out of his hand. It wasn't doing that on Tuesday night. Instead, it was coming out like a fastball, and darted away at the last moment. And with the command he had on top of that, Lester had his best stuff on Tuesday night, other than a few pitches that Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, and David Murphy got a hold of in the sixth and seventh innings.

"The past three starts, I've felt like I've thrown the ball better than I have all year," said Lester. "And I'm 0-2."

"I feel great, physically. I felt like we've made the right adjustments. The ball's down in the zone. I'm not giving up a bunch of hard-hit balls.

"I've got to look at the positives," added Lester. "I've got to keep looking at the positives. Three or four pitches, out of 116 pitches. That's a positive."

And Lester isn't the only one looking at the positives from his outing on Tuesday night.

"Just seeing where he's at right now, I can't be happier for him," said Saltalamacchia. "I know he didn't get the results he wanted, but, he's really, really heading towards the right direction.

"He's the Jon Lester that we all know, and want on the mound every single time out."