No surprise here as Red Sox tab Lester to pitch Opening Day
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jon Lester has been picked to start on opening day for the Boston Red Sox.
Boston manager John Farrell announced Thursday that Lester will pitch Monday in Baltimore against the Orioles. The news came as no surprise, but Farrell had waited to make an announcement.
"I know, it is earth-shattering," he quipped.
It will be Lester’s fourth consecutive opening day start, the fifth-longest streak in team history behind Pedro Martinez (seven), Roger Clemens (seven), Dennis Eckersley (five) and Cy Young (five).
Lester went 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 33 starts and 213 1-3 innings last year, helping the Red Sox to their third World Series championship in 10 years. The 30-year-old left-hander is 100-56 with a 3.76 ERA in eight seasons with Boston.
"He has become a very good pitcher at a young age," Farrell said. "For a guy that has made that number of starts for a franchise as storied as this, it speaks volumes."
Lester is 6-4 with a 2.11 ERA in 13 postseason appearances, including 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA in five starts last year. He went 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA in two World Series starts against St. Louis.
Lester, who can become a free agent after the season, has been in talks with the Red Sox about a new contract. Farrell has been impressed with the way Lester has handled the situation.
"Since the talks have started, he has done a very good job of compartmentalizing it," Farrell said. "He’s been able to focus on the task at hand. He’s been able to concentrate and maintain his focus. It speaks to his mental strength."
In three appearances this spring, Lester is 1-1 with a 0.71 ERA. He has given up one earned run over 12 2/3 innings with three walks and 14 strikeouts.
The Red Sox placed reliever Craig Breslow on the 15-day disabled list with a mild left shoulder strain.
Red Sox 4, Twins 1
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- John Lackey pitched six scoreless innings, Will Middlebrooks had two extra-base hits and the Boston Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Thursday night.
Lackey, the team’s No. 2 starter, gave up four hits with a walk and six strikeouts in his final tuneup for the regular season.
Kevin Correia, set to be the Twins’ No. 2 starter, allowed one run and six hits in five innings with a walk and a strikeout.
Middlebrooks went 2 for 3 with a double and a triple. He drove in the go-ahead run with a double in the seventh and is batting .362 this spring (17 for 47).
Aaron Hicks had two hits for the Twins, driving in their only run with a seventh-inning double. He is hitting .340 this spring (16 for 47).
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz went 0 for 2 with a strikeout, dropping his average to .054 (2 for 37) with 13 strikeouts.