BOSTON (CBS) – After Jon Lester shut down the Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series, the attention wasn’t on the left-hander’s magnificent 7 2/3 innings of work.
Instead, the focus was on his glove, courtesy of a Cardinal’s minor league pitcher who wondered on Twitter if Lester had a little extra help in shutting down the Cardinals.
That chatter didn’t last long, as Lester explained that the “foreign substance” seen on his glove was rosin used to help his grip. MLB said nothing conclusive could be drawn from the incident, and the Cardinals themselves downplayed it.
Lester knows there will be some more focus on his glove and hand when he takes the mound for Boston in Monday night’s Game 5, but all the lefty will be focused on is giving his team another lead in the World Series.
“I’m sure there’s going to be focus on my glove and focus on my hands and what I’m doing, but I’ve got to worry about the Cardinals. If I’m worried about what people are looking at, I’m worried about the wrong things,” Lester said prior to Boston’s 4-2 win in Game 4. “I’m going to go out and pitch my game.”
Lester dominated the Cardinals in Game 1 with a postseason career-high eight strikeouts. He retired the final nine batters he faced, and only two runners made it to third, one of them getting there on an error by left fielder Jonny Gomes.
That’s par for the course for his postseason career, as Lester sports a 2.22 ERA in 12 games pitched and 10 starts. With his Game 1 win, Lester improved to 3-1 this October, allowing just five earned runs over 27 innings.
“I don’t know what it is,” he said of his postseason success. “I like this stage. I like knowing that I’ve got to go out there and give everything I’ve got for my teammates, because tomorrow might be our last game. You don’t know. I guess that just gives you that little extra focus.”
“I think the one thing that we all recognize is that the power stuff wins in the postseason. He’s got it, and he maintains it,” Farrell said of Lester. “And yet in addition to his physical strengths, there’s a level of concentration that he’s capable of maintaining that gives him the ability to execute consistently over the time he’s on the mound. And those two things combined is what’s given the career performance he’s had in the postseason.”
Lester said having the likes of Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and Mike Timlin — who have plenty of postseason success on their resumes — to learn from early in his career helped him realize something very important about pitching, and not just in the postseason.
“One thing I learned from each level that I came up and got to the big leagues that hitters are the same; if you execute a pitch, seven out of 10 times, if they’re good, they’re going to get an out,” he said. “That doesn’t change in the postseason.”
“When you get on that mound and you get past the first couple of pitches and you get kind of those jitters out of you and you start to settle in, that’s when it’s just baseball,” he said. “That’s when it goes back to, we’ve got to execute all the way across the board all night to beat these guys.”
Lester will once again be opposed by Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, who gave up five runs (only three earned) in five innings in Game 1.
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