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October 5, 2013

Vintage Lester had 'bite-your-head-off' mentality

(Continued)

That’s the exact reason he boasted a .771 winning percent in his first 35 major league decisions and posted a .724 winning percentage in his first 58 career decisions.

Lester struck out the first four batters he faced yesterday. Sean Rodriguez (second inning solo homer) and Ben Zobrist (fourth inning solo homer) capitalized on possibly Lester’s only two bad pitches through four innings.

“My first two at-bats, he just beat me to the spot,” Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria said. “He didn’t throw any balls over the middle of the plate. Regardless of whether you’re seeing it well or not, good pitching is going to beat good hitting. If he puts it there, he’s going to beat you.”

Longoria thought Lester’s velocity decreased but his pitch execution got much better as the game progressed.

“He was on the corners,” Longoria said. “He was getting ahead. Pitch count was down. He made pitches.”

Now, it’s Lackey’s turn to return to his playoff vintage form. Yes, the task of having to face 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price is quite tall. But don’t forget that Lackey was the winner in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as a rookie and pitched 7.1 scoreless innings against Boston to win Game 1 of the 2009 ALDS.

“I’ve been around Jonny Lester a little bit longer than Lack but I’ve obviously known of Lack a long time, too — I watched him pitch growing up,” Red Sox Game 3 starter Clay Buchholz said. “That’s why there are here. That’s why they are who they are. They thrive off that big game and that situation. I wouldn’t rather have any other two guys starting for us.”

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB

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