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Home » May 2008 Game CommentsMay 2008 » Yes


Game 47: May 19, 2008
Royals 0 L: Luke Hochevar (3-3) 21-23, 1 game losing streak
WinRed Sox 7 W: Jon Lester (3-2) 28-19, 4 game winning streak
Highlights: Jacoby Ellsbury charted the shifting winds to track down Jose Guillen’s batted ball in the top of the fourth. The ball hawk swooped at his prey unerringly, nabbing it before it impaled itself on the blades of grass below. It was a magnificent play then and would only grow in its importance with each replaying. But at the time, Lester said his approach to this game was like any other game: get first-pitch strikes to get outs. That methodical technique enabled Lester to be the fifth Red Sox southpaw to throw a no-hitter, the 18th in his team’s history. Jason Varitek was the backstop for four of those games, the most all-time since the redefinition of no-hitter. Varitek also homered with one on and one out in the sixth.

Terry Francona wanted it. He wanted this perhaps more than Jon Lester wanted it. In the top of the eighth he slid Jacoby Ellsbury to left and brought Coco Crisp in to play center, removing Manny Ramirez from the scorecard. Francona wanted it so badly he even risked bruising the ego of a veteran player, something he is loathe to do.

Julio Lugo was plucked from the infield at the top of the ninth so that Alex Cora could play short field. The Red Sox have 27 errors this season and Lugo is responsible for 11 of them, so the move was warranted.

Not that Lugo didn’t make an early contribution to the no-hitter. In the third he made a charge on Tony Peña, Jr.’s grounder and relayed to Kevin Youkilis to get the second out of the inning by the breadth of a cleat.

But entering the ninth Lester had 113 pitches on his arm; an unsound toss or graceless glove could push Lester into unmarked and potentially perilous territory.

In that last inning every one of those nine players realized that a single, simple slip could cost one man his chance to make history. Francona, who Lester likened to his second father, paved the way for Lester a by putting in the optimum defensive alignment possible. It was what a father would do for a child: ensuring that his progeny has the best environment in which to thrive.

A surplus of adrenaline accompanied Lester to the mound to begin the final frame. Instead of the sure-fire deliveries that characterized most of his outing, Lester lost the zone to Esteban German and walked the left fielder in five pitches.

Again the speedy Peña took the box and Lester was equally prompt in dismissing him. Mike Lowell calmly fielded the infield chopper and fired across the diamond to Youkilis for the first out.

Now Lester harnessed the energy within and from the fans. He deftly worked David DeJesus inside and out until the batter could do no better than nub a weak grounder to Youkilis’s waiting glove. The first baseman ran it to the sack himself. He could have tossed it nonchalantly to Lester, feigning ignorance of the situation, but instead the corner infielder’s head-down determination to get the out unassisted belied what he and all 37,746 attendees knew they were so close to experiencing.

Alberto Callaspo took the dish, representing what could be the final out or the undoing of eight and two-thirds innings of dominance. Lester worked him inside and high with heat. Just when Callaspo thought he got down Lester’s timing and location, the lefty hurled his fastball high and outside. The utility infielder’s bat casted itself after empty air, quick as a clapstick signaling the beginning of the scene.

Only at Fenway is the reality better than any script.

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