(image courtesy of the Boston Globe)
Until today, the highlight of Jon Lester’s brief career was probably his clinching win in last season’s fall classic. And actually, having heard Lester interviewed at least half a dozen times, I feel reasonably confident in arguing that that’s likely to remain at the top of the list given the context of that win. But as personal accomplishments go, tonight will be difficult to top.
Against the same Kansas City Royals he one hit over eight two years ago come July, Lester outdid even himself, twirling a two walk no hitter using 130 pitches. With minimal assistance, the catch by Ellsbury being the most notable exception. I think it’s a rule that there’s always one spectacular defensive play, at a minimum.
Making this effort special, of course, is the fact that Lester is but 22 months removed from a diagnosis of anaplastic large cell lymphoma. While – to his credit – Lester has resisted any attempts to impose upon him special treatment, let alone deify him, the fact remains that regaining the ability to compete at a professional level following cancer treatments is an achievement. Whether he likes it or not.
What he undoubtedly will like is that from here on out he’ll carry a label besides “the talented young pitcher who overcame cancer.” He’ll be, along with Buchholz, the kid who did what Pedro Martinez could not (officially, though I wish the Hall of Fame would quite being a bitch and acknowledge the no hitter he lost in the 10th while with Montreal). He may never do what he did tonight again – in fact the odds are almost certainly against it – but it augurs well for his future as a pitcher.
So let me be the thousandth, nay, the millionth to congratulate the first Red Sox lefthander since Mel Parnell 52 years ago to throw a no hitter. Jon Lester, tonight was your night. And I, for one, enjoyed the shit out of it.
P.S. Two other bits of trivia: the Red Sox now own the last two no hitters thrown in the league (has that ever happened before?), and Lester’s gem marks the fourth Varitek has caught. Coincidence? The traditionalists will argue nay, the sabermetricians will (likely) argue yay. You, of course, can make up your own mind. Personally, I’ll wait for Neyer to research how many catchers have caught as many or more before deciding.