Tonight we may have seen Jon Lester finally reach that turning point that Red Sox fans have been waiting for him to turn.
He was in complete and total command as he fired a no-hitter, the 18th in Red Sox history, over the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park, 7-0. Lester was never in any kind of trouble as he allowed just a two walks, one to Billy Butler in the second, then retired 20 straight hitters before walking Esteban German to open the ninth. He then got two ground outs before he struck out Alberto Callaspo to end a very historic night at the Fens.
Lester became the first Red Sox lefty (or any lefty at Fenway) since Mel Parnell in 1956 to throw a no-hitter. He threw a season-high 130 pitches, but he was constantly getting first pitch strikes and rarely went to a three-ball count. Late in the game he was hitting 95 MPH on the radar gun, and the Royals hitters could only just flail away. He struck out nine, and was aided by a great sliding catch by Jacoby Ellsbury in the fourth. It was probably Kansas City's best chance at a hit all night.
The Red Sox scored five runs in the third, and added a two-run homer by Jason Varitek in the sixth to complete the scoring. (It was also a big night for Tek, as he became the only catcher to catch four no-hitters in MLB history. He also caught the no-nos of Hideo Nomo in 2001, Derek Lowe in 2002, and Clay Buchholz in 2007.) But it was Jon Lester's night to shine.
Terry Francona hugged Lester after it was over and it brought a tear to my eye. Jon was interviewed afterwards and called Tito "a second dad." It's another incredible moment for the young lefty who was diagnosed with lymphoma back in September 2006. He was also the winning pitcher of Game 4 of the 2007 World Series.
(My buddy Chris emailed me tonight and pointed out how we had yet another "mound celebration" on the sacred turf at Fenway. It's really nice to see them coming in an abundance in recent years.)
How could you top that? Lester found a way. The poet John Keats once wrote, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever." Tonight's game sure was a beauty.
Enjoy it forever, Jon.