June 19, 2018
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Red Sox surge might keep Lester off the market

Anthony Gruppuso | USA Today Sports
Anthony Gruppuso | USA Today Sports
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester sits in the dugout during a game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium last month.
By The Sports Exchange, Special to the BDN

BOSTON — When Jon Lester pitches the way he did Sunday, the way he pitched for so much of this season, it is hard to imagine the Boston Red Sox not making sure they keep him beyond this season.

So far, however, no contract. Talks were tabled. There even was talk of moving Lester before the trade deadline.

That talk, however, will likely stop if the Red Sox keep winning. Lester’s eight shutout innings helped Boston earn a 6-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, with the Red Sox completing a three-game sweep.

Boston has won seven of its last eight entering Monday night’s game against Toronto, showing enough life to make the time leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline very important.

Lester, who worked an ineffective inning at the All-Star Game, is 10-7 with a 2.50 ERA. He is 4-0 with three no-decisions and an 0.85 ERA in his past seven starts, and he allowed one earned run over the last four.

“Through the month here, he’s been outstanding,” manager John Farrell said after Sunday’s game. “Eight shutout innings here again today. I think the difference today might have been the ability to change speeds with his breaking ball.

“He threw a lot of strikes to both sides of the plate with his fastball. But he was able to add and subtract to his breaking ball with particularly the cutter. And then his curveball the last three starts has probably been the best stretch in quite some time.”

After winning four of their last five before the break, the Red Sox fell behind the Royals 4-1 into the sixth inning of Friday’s night’s resumption of play, then outscored Kansas City 12-1 the rest of the series.

RED SOX NOTES: Outfielder Shane Victorino, who returned from the disabled list and went a combined 3-for-7 on Saturday and Sunday, will get rest this week when the Red Sox play on artificial surfaces in Toronto and Tampa Bay. Manager John Farrell said Victorino is on a schedule that will see him play four out of five days. … Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, on the disabled list with a broken right index finger and rehabbing at Triple-A Pawtucket, will continue to get minor league playing time. His recovery was slowed recently due to a left wrist strain, but he returned to action with Pawtucket on Friday and went 4-for-10 over the weekend. … Brock Holt has played every position for the Red Sox this season except pitcher and catcher. Of those, the only position at which he hasn’t started is second base, filling in for two innings there earlier this season. However, manager John Farrell said Holt would start there when he gives regular second baseman Dustin Pedroia a day off. Holt went 2-for-5 Sunday as the third baseman.


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