BOSTON (CBS) – In a must win game, the Red Sox are turning to their ace.
Jon Lester will take the mound in Game 162 against the Baltimore Orioles, with the Red Sox tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL Wild Card.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Lester has struggled in September, going just 1-3 with a 5.96 ERA in five starts. He will also be on three days’ rest, which did not fare well in the past for the left-hander.
In his only start on three days’ rest, Lester allowed four runs, including two homers, in five innings against the Angels in 2008.
His teammates are confident the Sox ace will come through when they need him most.
“Expect Lester to go out there and do what he does,” catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said on Tuesday. “He’s pitched well against these guys, so we’re going to go out there and pitch his game. We’re going to go out there and play hard.”
Lester has owned the Orioles in his career, going 10-0 with a 2.19 ERA in 13 starts against Baltimore since 2008. In his only start against the O’s in 2011, Lester tossed eight innings of quality ball, allowing just two runs while striking out five.
While the Red Sox should feel good about who they have on the mound, their situation in general has caused some nausea and headaches among fans, and their manager, alike.
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“I haven’t felt good about myself in a while,” manager Terry Francona joked after Tuesday night’s 8-7 win. “I think it’s really good for baseball; not so good for my stomach.”
If both Boston and Tampa win, or lose, Wednesday night, the two would play a play-in game on Thursday in St. Petersburg.
For the Red Sox, they need to forget about the 19 loses they’ve suffered in September, and focus on the one game left. All that matters right now is winning.
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“If we win, we can keep playing,” said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. “That’s all I’m thinking about, I’m sure that’s what everyone else is thinking about. We win baseball games, we continue to play. That’s all we have to focus on, us. Not anyone else.”
“It’s exciting. If you don’t want to show up (today) to play, you have no pulse,” said Francona.
“It’s going to be fun. It’s exciting. We have to show up tomorrow and play for something. A lot of teams don’t get to do that; we’re doing that. We’re going to come out and play our butts off,” said Pedroia.