ST LOUIS // The Boston Red Sox are one victory away from the World Series title after two dominating performances from pitcher Jon Lester, who is turning out to be their October hero.
Lester gave the Red Sox the early advantage in this best-of-seven series, as he scattered five hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings to nail down the game one victory.
The 29-year-old American did it again in game five on Monday, as he had seven strikeouts in another brilliant 7 2/3 innings of work, allowing just one run in a 3-1 win.
“He’s been on a great run,” said John Farrell, the Boston manager, about Lester. “He’s done such a great job with his work in between starts to maintain the durability and overall strength. It was evident here tonight.”
In three career World Series starts, Lester is 3-0 with a terrific 0.43 ERA. The only other Red Sox pitcher to win his first three World Series starts was Babe Ruth, who did it from 1916-18.
Boston slugger David Ortiz said back when Lester first broke into the league, the lefthander was not shy about letting his teammates know they could depend on him in big games.
“When Jon came up to the big leagues we were going to the play-offs and winning World Series,” Ortiz said. “And as a young player he was always looking around and trying to improve himself and get better.
“He told me straight up that he was going to be the future of the organisation, the ace. Here he is doing what he does best.”
Lester came under scrutiny after game one of the 2013 World Series because of a green “goop” he had in his glove. A St Louis Cardinals minor leaguer tweeted out a picture and suggested that Lester may be hiding a foreign substance in his glove.
Videos then surfaced and questions were asked before the Cardinals and Major League Baseball both dismissed it as a non-event.
“If I’m worried about what people are looking at, I’m worried about the wrong things. I’m going to go out and pitch my game,” said Lester.
And that is exactly what he did on Monday, giving the Red Sox another shot in the arm. Lester also improved to 6-4 with a 2.11 ERA in 13 career play-off appearances.
The long Major League Baseball season is not going to get any easier just because Boston are heading back to Fenway Park and Lester says he would not have it any other way.
With a pivotal Game 5 win in the books, the Red Sox need to win one of the next two at home to claim another World Series title.
“You show up on February 1 and play 162 games,” Lester said. “We are at about 180 games and it comes down to one game. Pretty special time.
“I feel like it is October 28. We have got to battle through though. We’ve got three months to recover. The time to win is now.”