Lester's gem just what the Red Sox ordered

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Lester's gem just what the Red Sox ordered

BOSTON -- It was a night almost exactly like this one: A Monday, cloudy, 57 degrees.

The difference: That one was almost exactly four years ago, May, 19, 2008. Jon Lester pitched a no-hitter against the Royals at Fenway Park.

On this night, Lester had a perfect game with two outs in the fourth inning against the Mariners at Fenway. But Ichiro Suzuki made sure Lester would not be adding to his no-hit resume. Not on this night, anyway.

Suzuki took the fourth pitch of the at-bat from Lester and lined a sharp groundball right back at the left-hander. Lesters glove deflected the ball, with Ichiro reaching safely, erasing the no-hitter and perfect game. In the ninth, Ichiro erased the shutout, scoring the Mariners lone run.

But, the Mariners could do little to prevent Lester from a complete-game win, as he scattered eight Seattle hits, allowing no walks with six strikeouts.The Red Sox beat the Mariners, 6-1, for their fourth straight win, as Lester improved to 2-3 with a 3.71 ERA.

He went out and he looked like he had a mission to accomplish and he accomplished it, said manager Bobby Valentine. He was throwing all of his pitches early in the game, throwing them all for strikes, had a very confident look about himself and just for you younger reporters out there, thats called a complete game--when a starter starts and then he finishes it.

Perhaps, the Mariners would have been ripe for the pickings of a no-hitter. They entered the game batting just .235 as a team, better than only Oaklands .218 in the American League.

His cutter was really good, said Seattle lead-off hitter Dustin Ackley, who went 1-for-4 with a strikeout. That thing looked like his fastball and it just breaks off at the last minute. When you have a pitch like that, youre going to miss barrels a lot.

Lester threw a good ballgame, said Mariners manager Eric Wedge. We hit some balls hard for outs and a couple of our guys had some good at-bats tonight, but nothing with really any damage behind it.

Lester was staked to a two-run lead after the first. In the fourth, a two-run homer from Daniel Nava and solo shot by Kelly Shoppach padded the lead. Marlon Byrds sacrifice fly in the eighth scored Will Middlebrooks for the Sox final run.

Lester kept the Mariners off the scoreboard until the ninth. Suzuki led off with a single, taking third on Justin Smoaks one-out double. Kyle Seagers groundout to Dustin Pedroia scored Suzuki for Seattles only run.

After the game, Lester acknowledged he was thinking about a no-hitter. Then again, he usually does, he said.

I think thats everybodys goal when they go out there, to throw a no-hitter, perfect game, he said. Just ended up giving up a base hit a little later than normal. I just was able to keep the ball down. its obviously in the back of your mind but I dont think it really becomes significant until the sixth, seventh inning. Thats when youre cutting those outs down and you might have a chance.

It was Lesters eighth career complete game, second this season. The other was an eight-inning loss in Toronto on April 11. It was his first nine-inning complete game since June 27, 2010, at San Francisco, and first at Fenway for any Sox pitcher since Lesters nine-inning win over the Twins on May 20, 2010.

Suzuki was the only baserunner Lester allowed through the first five innings. He did not allow a ball out of the infield until Kyle Seagers flyout to right for the second out of the fifth.

He was very aggressive tonight early in counts, said Shoppach. We talked about that before the game, we talked about that his last few starts, how much more efficient he could be.

Lesters gem gives the Sox four consecutive quality starts for the first this season. Josh Beckett could complete the cycle in the two-game series finale Tuesday afternoon.

Were building a foundation, a base ofconfidence, confidence in each other and confidence in the group, Valentine said. Jons a big part of the group and when hes doing well we feel good about ourself. At least I know I do and I know that the hitters do, too.

At 16-19, though, the Sox are still in the cellar of the American League East. If they are to dig their way out, the starting pitchers must lead the way with the proverbial shovels.

I said last week we got to get over the hump, Shoppach said. The starters got to start competing against one another, try to outdo the next guy and momentum will build. Im a firm believer that this game starts with the guys on the mound, which is why I care so much about whats going on out on the mound because I truly believe thats the most important part of the game.

It wasnt a perfect game, or a no-hitter. It wasnt even a shutout. But it was a well-pitched game, and it was a win.

Lester did his part. Now the shovel has been passed. Its up to Josh Beckett to pick it up.

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Among the reactions to the news that Bobby Valentine was possibly being considered to be the US amassador to Japan in President Donald Trump’s administration was this beauty from Kevin Youkilis. 

Valentine famously called out Youkilis early in his stormy tenure as Red Sox manager in 2012. Remember? "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Bobby V said of Youk at the time. 

The Red Sox traded Youkilis to the White Sox for two not-future Hall of Famers, outfielder Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, later that season.

Youkilis, now Tom Brady’s brother-in-law by the way, had a 21-game stint playing in Japan in 2014 before retiring from baseball. 

 

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Major league manager. Inventor of the wrap sandwich. Champion ballroom dancer.  And…

US ambassador to Japan?

Bobby Valentine is on the short list for that position in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a WEEI.com report.

The former Red Sox manager (fired after a 69-93 season and last-place finish in 2012), and ex-New York Mets and Texas Rangers, skipper, also managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons. 

When asked by the New York Daily News if he's being considered for the post, Valentine responded: "I haven't been contacted by anyone on Trump's team." 

Would he be interested?

"I don't like to deal in hypotheticals," Valentine told the Daily News.

Valentine, 66, has known the President-elect and Trump's brother Bob since the 1980s, is close to others on Trump’s transition team and has had preliminary discussions about the ambassador position, sources told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. 

Valentine, currently the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., is also friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Valentine, attended the University of Southern California.