Red Sox' Lester tosses first no-hitter of season
Jon Lester can now add pitching a no-hitter to his already amazing list of accomplishments. The 24-year-old lefthander, who survived cancer to pitch the clincher of Boston's 2007 World Series victory, shut down visiting Kansas City, 7-0, last night for the first no-hitter in the majors this season.
Jon Lester can now add pitching a no-hitter to his already amazing list of accomplishments.
The 24-year-old lefthander, who survived cancer to pitch the clincher of Boston's 2007 World Series victory, shut down visiting Kansas City, 7-0, last night for the first no-hitter in the majors this season.
"Really, words can't describe it right now," Lester said.
Lester (3-2) allowed only two baserunners, walking Billy Butler in the second inning and Esteban German to open the ninth. He struck out nine, including Alberto Callaspo to end the game.
Catcher Jason Varitek, who has been behind the plate for a record four no-hitters, lifted his pitcher into the air. Then Lester, who missed the end of the 2006 season after he was diagnosed with a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and manager Terry Francona met for a long, hard embrace when it was over.
"I've been through a lot the past couple years, and he's been like a second dad to me," Lester said.
Lester was diagnosed in September 2006 and was declared cancer-free by the end of the year. He returned to the rotation last July.
Centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury made a diving catch of Jose Guillen's line drive to end the fourth - the best defensive play of the game. Lester also got help from first baseman Kevin Youkilis, who made a nice scoop on shortstop Julio Lugo's throw after David DeJesus hit a grounder in the third.
The fans really got into it for the final out of the seventh, rising to their feet when Lester fanned Guillen on a 93 mph fastball. They remained standing for the entire ninth inning, flashes popping, screaming at full throat when defensive replacement Callaspo fell behind 0-2.
Lester pumped both fists in the air after Callaspo reached for a high and outside, 1-2 fastball.
"I was trying to do what I could do," Callaspo said. "You had to . . . try to get the bat on the ball."
Lester and Varitek were mobbed by teammates running out of the dugout as the speakers played "Tessie," the victory anthem the Red Sox adopted through two World Series titles in four seasons. Lester was instrumental in the second, earning the victory in Game 4 at Colorado less than a year after chemotherapy cured his cancer.
After Lester hugged Francona, the pitcher tipped his hat to the Fenway Park fans for one more big cheer.
"He's not just a good kid because he threw a no-hitter," Francona said. "He's a good kid because he's a good kid."
Mel Parnell was the last Red Sox lefty to throw a no-hitter, beating the Chicago White Sox on July 14, 1956. Boston's last no-hitter was pitched by Clay Buchholz, who shut down the Baltimore Orioles, 10-0, in only his second major league start last Sept. 1.
Varitek, who has spent his entire big-league career with the Red Sox, was behind the plate for on April 27, 2002, for Derek Lowe's 10-0 win over Tampa Bay and April 4, 2001, for Hideo Nomo 3-0 win at Baltimore, as well as Buchholz' and Lester's no-hitters.
"It's so exciting to be part of one. Each one is so different," said Varitek, who handed Lester the ball from the final pitch, but didn't have much to say. "Just let him enjoy the moment.
"It was his moment."
In other games:
* At Minneapolis, Howie Clark's single over Josh Hamilton's head in centerfield lifted Minnesota to a 7-6 victory over Texas.
* Alex Rodriguez is set to rejoin the New York Yankees tonight after finishing his rehabilitation of a strained right quadriceps.
"I'm excited to get back into Yankee Stadium and playing baseball. It's where I belong," Rodriguez said after going 2-for-6 in an extended spring training game.
Rodriguez, out since April 28, doubled and singled in six at-bats against Phillies minor league righthander Reginal Simon. He also reached on error, struck out and flied out twice, making him 3-for-10 with a homer in two extended spring training games.