Friday started off on a sour note for the Red Sox, as they were forced to put the struggling Matt Clement on the disabled list with shoulder problems. He clearly needs the time off. But it ended on a high note as talented lefthanded rookie Jon Lester (pictured on the right in his AA Portland Sea Dogs days) pitched six solid innings and got his first major league win in defeating the Atlanta Braves, 4-1 at Turner Field.
Lester showed some incredible poise, especially when he got into a jam in the fifth. The Braves loaded the bases with one out, and he allowed just a Chipper Jones sacrifice fly before Jeff Francoeur grounded out. It was the only real trouble Lester was in the whole night. His final line was: 6 innings, 5 hits, 1 earned run, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. He was consistently hitting the radar gun in the low 90s, and his high for the night was 94 MPH. I watched the game on FSN South, the Braves station, and even their announcers were very impressed with command and poise.
They were also shocked at the number of Red Sox fans at Turner Field last night. It sounded like it was 40-50% Sox fans in the stands. No shock to me. Red Sox Nation is everywhere, and made their presence known last night.
Lester got all the offense he needed when, with the score 1-0 Red Sox in the third, Jason Varitek doubled in three runs off Tim Hudson. Tek seems to be out of his early season batting woes, as he had three hits last night and raised his batting average above .250.
With Clement heading for the DL, Lester figures to be around for a while. His next start will be Wednesday night at Fenway Park against the Washington Nationals. I have such faith in him that I picked him up for one of my fantasy teams last night.
Welcome back Kapler! Gabe Kapler was activated last night from the DL, and takes Clement's spot on the roster. He's made an amazingly quick return to Boston from his achilles injury he suffered in Toronto last September. Kapler figured to be out until after the All-Star break. He will probably see limited action in his return, but could be a valuable addition for the remainder of the year.
But the Sox have a major quandry in that they have not slated anyone to start on Monday against Washington. When they do, they'll also have to move someone off the roster as well. They could bring up Abe Alvarez or even David Pauley from Pawtucket for a spot start. Stay tuned.