Jon Lester was a winner Monday night before he even took the mound. He made sure that he was a winner after he left the mound as well.
Lester, whose rookie season was cut short when he was diagnosed with cancer in August, was back on the mound for the first time since his diagnosis. Lester pitched six strong innings in his first start in almost 11 months, leading the Red Sox to an 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.
Lester was having a breakout rookie season with the Red Sox last year, going 7-2 for the Red Sox and quickly becoming a fan favorite along with fellow rookie Jonathan Papelbon.
Jon Lester was in a car accident several days after he had beaten the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Fenway Park. He thought nothing serious of the car crash and proceeded to stay with the team and he did not even report the accident since it seemed minor.
When Lester went to the doctor to get checked out for some nagging back pain from the accident the doctor made a discovery that shocked Lester, his family, the Red Sox and Red Sox fans. His campaign was cut short after he was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Luckily for Lester, this form of cancer is highly treatable if it is caught early.
During the offseason, Lester underwent six rounds of chemotherapy. Lester was officially cancer free in December and he started throwing again. This was the start of a long comeback to the major leagues.
While Lester wanted to come back to the Sox right away, the Red Sox opted for the safer root by placing Lester on the disabled list to start the season. Lester then finally got the chance to work his way through the Red Sox minor league system again, eventually ending up in Cleveland last night, pitching for the big league club.
The sight of Lester walking to the mound drew a standing ovation from the Red Sox fans that were in attendance. The ones cheering the loudest for Lester were his parents, who were sitting near the Boston dugout.
While Lester was probably feeling very nervous in the dugout in anticipation of his first major league start of the season, his Red Sox teammates did all they could to take the pressure off of him, spotting him a four-run lead before he ever took the mound. It was all Lester needed to work with.
Lester looked unbeatable in the first two-innings, his only blemish being erased in a double play, but the third and fourth innings proved a little tougher. He gave up a two-run home run to Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore in the third inning, and he found himself in trouble again in the fourth. He walked the bases loaded but then got Josh Barfield to ground out to him, although a bobble cost him a chance at a double play. He struck out Sizemore to end the threat without any damage. Jon Lester gave up two runs on five hits in six innings of work.
All in all Lester looked like he had returned to the form that made him the first Red Sox rookie left-hander to win his first five decisions last season.
The Red Sox offense was led by Coco Crisp on Monday night. In a return to the field he once called home, Crisp went 4-for-5 and scored three runs for the Sox. With the victory the Red Sox became the first major league team to reach 60 wins this season.
The teams will resume this current series tomorrow night with the Red Sox sending rookie Daisuke Matsuzaka to face Cleveland ace CC Sabathia.