MINNEAPOLIS -- Jon Lester said he was unaware that he'll be pitching against Max Scherzer Friday night in the opener of a weekend series against the Detroit Tigers, but looking forward to a rematch against the team the Red Sox defeated in last year's ALCS.
The pitching matchup will be a repeat of one from last Sept. 3, when Scherzer and Lester locked into a taut pitcher's duel that the Sox ultimately won, 2-1, in one of the pitched and played games of the regular season.
"Obviously, going against a guy like Max,'' said Lester, "you know that what you're going to get and you try to go out there and battle and just minimize the damage and give our guys a chance.''
But beyond the opposing pitcher, Lester knows the three games will be tough. The Tigers come in with the best record of any team in the American League.
"It will be a fun series,'' said Lester. "Anytime you play teams like that -- the Yankees, the Rays, really anyone in our division -- every game, you're stacking yourself against the best teams in the league and you see where you're at at the end. It's going to be a grind. It's going to be a battle, but at the same time, it's going to be fun.''
Manager John Farrell likened the Lester-Scherzer matchup to the pitcher's duel last month between Lester and the Chicago White Sox' Chris Sale, won by Lester and the Red Sox.
"When you have two elite pitchers,'' said Farrell, "you expect it to be a close, low-run game. That's expected (Friday) night as well.''
The Tigers have a somewhat different look than they did last October, having dealt Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler, while introducing rookie Alex Castellanos at third base.
"I don't think the dynamic changes,'' said Lester. "I haven't really seen Castellanos a lot. I've obviously seen Kinsler a lot. But the biggest addition for them, I think, is Rajai Davis.''
Davis, obtained in the off-season, provides speed on the basepaths that the Tigers haven't had. Davis has stolen 13 bases in 15 attempts.
"Last year, they were more station-to-station,'' said Lester. "They had guys who could run, but didn't a lot. Anytime you have a guy in your lineup that can steal 45-50 bases in the No. 9 hole, that changes a lot.
But as far as their core guys -- you try to contain their first four or five guys, then six through nine, you've got make sure you get those guys out three times apiece. So that when Kinsler, or Austin Jackson or Torii Hunter, then Miguel (Cabrera), the Victor (Martinez). You've got to make sure that you don't give those guys (many) chances with guys on base.
"A Miguel Cabrera solo homer hopefully doesn't beat you. But a Miguel Cabrera three-run homer probably will, (especially) against a guy like Scherzer or (Justin) Verlander.''
The addition of Davis, Lester said, allows the Tigers to "create run, whereas last year, I don't think they were creating a whole lot of offense. They were just doing damage.''
"It's a high-scoring team,'' said John Farrell. "It's a team that's pitched very well. Their rotation has been successful. We're going to get the Cy Young Award winner (Scherzer) a year ago and that's going to be a challenge. He's off to another very good start. It'll be a strong matchup over the weekend.''