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Friday, October 4, 2013

Lester's Dazzle & 97mph Fastball, Gomes Smarts, Earn Red Sox G1 "W"

(Be sure to see for full American League Divisional Playoff Series coverage) - Here's a clip of tonight's lede story ...
Jon Lester with G1 gem (Getty Images)
BOSTON, October 4, 2013 -- Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester worked 7 2/3 strong innings and his catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, drove in three runs as Boston took Game 1 of the American League Division Series from visiting Tampa Bay Friday night at Fenway Park. Lester (1-0) allowed two runs on three hits and struck out seven while utilityman Jonny Gomes doubled in two runs and shortstop Stephen Drew singled in the go-ahead run during a five-run fourth inning for the Red Sox, who were playing their first postseason game since 2009.
"I think what we've seen during the course of the year is Jon has ironed out his delivery to where, when he's got added adrenaline or emotion, he's still able to channel it in the right way and not sacrifice location with his stuff," said Boston Manager John Farrell in a packed playoff interview room inquiring about Lester's 97-mph first pitch of the day. "That first inning was powerful. I know he was more than ready for today's start.
"We've seen a number of starts in the second half, where once he settles in and he creates such good rhythm and balance in his delivery is what allows him to sustain the power throughout his game when he's out there. It's made his cutter more effective and his change-up got some swings and misses because of the increased velocity to his fastball. He was in a good place today."
Tampa's Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist each homered but starting pitcher Matt Moore (0-1) was knocked around for eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings as the Rays lost for just the third time in 13 games dating back to the regular season. Moore did not allow a hit through the first three innings but got little help from his defense in the fourth. David Ortiz’s fly to the track in right with a runner on first turned into a ground-rule double when rookie Wil Myers inexplicably pulled away from the play, and Rodriguez got too close to the “Green Monster” on Gomes’ drive off the wall and had it jump over his head to allow the first two runs to score.
"From what I was told," said Tampa Manager Joe Maddon, "he (Wil Myers) kind of saw Desmond (Jennings, CF) coming through the corner of his eye and just backed-off. (It was) really a routine play. Very unfortunate."
Gomes took off on Drew’s slow roller to the right side and scored the go-ahead run all the way from second when Moore was late to the bag covering the play, and Will Middlebrooks followed with an RBI double to left before a passed ball on a third strike allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to reach ahead of Shane Victorino’s run-scoring single. Saltalamacchia’s two-run double to left was also misplayed by Rodriguez and highlighted a three-run fifth before Boston put it away with a four-run eighth.
"(Jonny) Gomes is a smart baseball player," noted Farrell. "In some ways with some guys, you can take numbers and put them aside. Jonny is one of those. Whether it's inside of a rally, which he's been a big part of late in the game when he's had some big hits for us. Today, in that (key) inning, with the double... the two-run double off the wall - today was the reason Jonny chose to come to Boston. He demonstrated why this is where he wants to play. He fits what we do so well. That is the way he goes about the game and it rubs off on other players in our clubhouse."
GAME NOTEBOOK: Victorino was hit by a pitch and stole second base in the first inning, marking the Red Sox’s 40th straight successful stolen-base attempt. Ellsbury made it 41 in the eighth. … Three of Tampa Bay’s four hits went for extra bases, including Kelly Johnson’s pinch-hit triple in the ninth. … Tampa Bay ace David Price, who pitched a complete game to beat the Texas Rangers in Monday’s tiebreaker, will get the ball in Saturday's Game 2, opposed by Red Sox RHP John Lackey.

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