The Washington Post

Jon Lester was ‘locked in’ as he struck out 15 A’s

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Jon Lester pitched a gem for Boston in their 6-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday. The lefty allowed just one hit and walked two over eight shutout innings. He set a career-high in strikeouts (15) while throwing 119 pitches.

“The combination of power and command was impressive,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “He was locked in, seemingly, from the first pitch of the game.”

Jon Lester heat map of strikeouts Source: BaseballSavant
Jon Lester heat map of strikeout pitches
Source: BaseballSavant

His cutter was particularly effective, despite a less-than-optimal bullpen session. “It’s probably the worst cutter I’ve thrown in a bullpen in a long time, but I don’t take much stock in my bullpens anymore,” Lester said.

Lester threw the cutter 37 times and 25 were strikes (67.6 percent), much higher than his career MLB average of 25.5 percent. It also produced 17 swings and six whiffs. Almost half of his 15 strikeouts (7) came on the cutter.

“That’s the best performance I’ve seen him have,” Oakland’s Nick Punto said.

It’s one of the best performances anyone has seen by a lefty. Lester is just the third southpaw to strike out 15 or more while allowing just one or fewer hits. The other two: Warren Spahn and Randy Johnson. And the Big Unit last turned the trick in 2001.

Player Date Rslt IP SO BB H BF
Jon Lester 5/3/14 W 6-3 8 15 2 1 26
Randy Johnson 7/18/01 W 3-0 7 16 1 1 23
Randy Johnson 6/8/97 W 2-0 8 15 3 1 27
Randy Johnson 9/16/93 W 14-1 7.1 15 6 1 30
Randy Johnson 9/16/92 L 1-2 9 15 1 1 31
Warren Spahn 9/16/60 W 4-0 9 15 2 0 29

“He looked pretty cozy out there,” Boston outfielder Jonny Gomes said.


Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.



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Neil Greenberg · May 5, 2014