Lester's No Hitter: Couldn't Have Happened to a Better Person
Boston Red Sox's Jon Lester threw a no-hitter in Fenway Park last night defeating the Kansas City Royals 7-0. After watching his teammates congratulate him after the game gave me the impression that it couldn't have happened to a better person.
Very few of us can identify with what Lester has gone through since finding out he had cancer. His victory in the World Series clincher was the first sign he was all the way back and last night he proved he is an integral part of the Red Sox rotation.
On April 29th, he had pitched 8 innings allowing only one hit in a 1-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, but he didn't get the decision in the contest. He now is 3-2 and the win last night was only his second decision in his last eight starts. He is starting to shed his reputation as a 5 inning pitcher having pitched into the sixth inning or longer in 6 of his last 7 starts.
The no-hitter by Lester was the second by the Red Sox in consecutive years since Clay Buchholz pitched a no-hitter on September 1, 2007.
Rays Stay Close To Red Sox
While the Red Sox were winning their game, the Tampa Bay Rays stayed close to the Red Sox with a 7-6 win over the Oakland Athletics, winning by a 7-6 score. Evan Longoria was the hitting star for the Rays, having a 3-for-6 game, while hitting his 5th homer in the 13th inning and driving in 3 runs. He is ahead of Carlos Pena in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and has one more extra base hit despite batting 40 fewer times than Pena. Dioner Navarro continued his hot hitting with two more hits, and he has been very consistent this season hitting .355 in April and .345 in May.
The first four batters in the Athletics' batting order were 0 for 15, but Frank Thomas was 3-for-4 and hit his 4th and 5th homers of the season. Thomas is now in a three way tie for first in homers on the A's with Jack Cust and Emil Brown. Thomas is second on the team in RBI's with 24 behind the team leader Brown who has 34.
Hamilton Drives in 50th Run
The Minnesota Twins overcame an early 2-0 deficit to defeat the Texas Rangers in 12 innings 7-6. Bobby Korecky won his first Major League game to take the win and even had a hit, which is unusual for an American League pitcher.
Josh Hamilton hit his 11th homer of the season, tying him with Carlos Quentin for the American League lead. He also drove in his 50th run of the season, which is 13 more than David Ortiz has in the 2008 season. He is hitting .319, which is only 8 points less than AL league leader Kevin Youkilis's .327. So a Triple Crown for Hamilton is not that far out of reach at this point in the season.
Hamilton already has 3 more RBI's in 45 games than when he had 47 in 90 games last season. He is hitting much better at night than during the daytime this season with a .236 average in day games and a .354 average in night games. ESPN.com is projecting Hamilton to drive in 179 runs this season. Of course, it is very unlikely he will have that many RBI's by the end of the season, but it does show what a great start he is off to in the early stages of the 2008 season.
Hamilton is one of the best bargains in baseball. It would be something if he did win the Triple Crown since he is making only $396,000 this season. That's only $6,000 more than the Major League minimum salary.
Lilly Wins Fourth Consecutive Start
Chicago Cubs' Ted Lilly (5-4) won his fourth consecutive start and won his fifth game in last 6 starts while defeating the Houston Astros 7-2. Geovany Soto hit his 9th homer of the season and Aramis Ramirez hit his 7th. Not many fans thought Soto would have two more homers than Ramirez with the season a third through next week. More surprisingly he is leading the team in slugging with a .614 mark, while Alfonso Soriano is next at .574. Soto is also leading the team in doubles with 14 and RBI's with 33. It looks like Soto and Kosuke Fukodome will be battling to take NL Rookie of the Year honors until the end of the season.
Lance Berkman was 0-for-4, ending a 17 game hitting streak and dropping his batting average to .389.
Redding, Nationals Defeat Phillies 4-0
Washington Nationals' Tim Redding (6-3) has reversed his 3-6 record of last season with a 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Brett Myers (2-5) gave up 5 doubles in the game but still allowed only 3 runs in 6 innings but the listless Phillies offense could only manage 5 singles and 2 doubles by Geoff Jenkins.
Since defeating the Cubs and Astros in back-to-back wins on April 11th and 17th, Myers has not won a game. His ERA was 5.06 in April but now is 6.85 in May and 5.76 for the season. Myers has allowed 15 runs and 26 hits in his last 15 innings.
Cole Hamels (5-3) is the only Phillies starter with an ERA of under 3.00, with a 2.89 mark. Jamie Moyer has given up 68 hits in 49 innings and has a 3-3 record. Myers has given up 74 hits in 59 innings. Adam Eaton is still looking for his first win of the season and has only 2 decisions in 9 starts. Kyle Kendrick is holding his own in his sophomore season but would like to improve on his 4.76 ERA. The bright spot of the pitching staff is that Brad Lidge is 10 for 10 in save opportunities and has a 0.47 ERA.
Rockies Edge Giants 4-3
The San Francisco Giants blew a 3-1 lead and the Colorado Rockies defeated the Giants 4-3. It was the third straight win for the Rockies, but they still are 10 1/2 games behind the first place Arizona Diamondbacks and 5 1/2 games behind the second place Dodgers.
Cardinals Hammer Padres 8-2
Ryan Ludwick hit his 12th homer and Albert Pujols hit his 10th and 11th homers, as they led the St. Louis Cardinals to an 8-2 win over the hapless San Diego Padres who have not won more than two games in a row this season. Ludwick, who turns 30 in July, is finally getting a chance to play everyday and after hitting 14 homers in 303 at-bats in 2007 has 12 already in only 123 at-bats. After hitting 4 homers and driving in 14 runs in April, he has hit 8 homers and driven in 18 already in the first 19 days of May.
He is 4th in the Majors in homers with 12. He is 8th in majors in RBI's with 32 which is one more than Pujols has this season. He only trails Lance Berkman in slugging in the majors with Berkman leading with .784 and Ludwick having a .772 slugging percentage. Ludwick is also second in OPS with 1.199 trailing first place Berkman with a 1.251 mark. Right now, Ludwick is a legitimate candidate for the NL All Star team. The only question is if the lack of name recognition may prevent him from being voted onto the team.
Blake DeWitt Singles in Winning Run In Dodgers 6-5 Win Over the Reds
Blake DeWitt made it an even tougher decision of what to do with Dewitt when Nomar Garciaparra returns to the lineup when he singled in the winning run last night in a 6-5 defeat of the Cincinnati Reds. Joe Torre almost certainly will not send DeWitt back down when Garciaparra returns since DeWitt is hitting .322 which is second on the team.
Only James Loney and Matt Kemp have more RBI's than DeWitt. DeWitt is near the top in rookie stats in NL but Geovany Soto at this point in the season has to be favorite right now but DeWitt is close enough that if Soto falters he may still win the NL Rookie of the Year award.
Looking at the Standings
The Red Sox lead the AL East by one game over the Rays. The Rays, despite being second place in the division, have the second best record in the AL. The Rays and Baltimore Orioles are both 7-3 in their last 10 games. The New York Yankees are 20-24 and are 6 games behind the Red Sox and only the Tigers and Mariners have worse winning percentages than their .455 in the AL.
The Chicago White Sox are the hottest team in the Majors with a 5 game winning streak and have won 8 of their last 10 games. They are a game and a half ahead of the Twins and Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. The Detroit Tigers' .386 winning percentage is the second worst in the majors only topped by the Padres with an even worse .348 percentage.
The Florida Marlins are holding onto a slim one game lead over the Mets and a game and a half lead over the third place Phillies in the NL East. The Phillies have a chance to move into first place depending on how the Mets do in their doubleheader with the Atlanta Braves. If the Braves win the doubleheader and Phillies lose, they will jump over the Phillies and New York Mets into second place. However, I can't see the Phillies losing to the Nationals with Cole Hamels on the mound.
The Cubs have stretched their lead in the NL Central to a two game lead, but they are facing stiff competition from the Cardinals and Astros who are 2 games and three and a half games out respectively. The Cubs are 8-2 in their last ten games. The Milwaukee Brewers are only a game behind the 4th place Pittsburgh Pirates and have a chance to close the gap while they play the Pirates starting tonight. Only the Nationals and Padres have worst winning percentages than the Brewers in the NL. Brewers have now lost 5 in a row and are 4 games under .500.
The NL West leading Diamondbacks have the best record in baseball and have the only winning record in the division in the last 10 games with a 6-4 record. Joe Torre is doing better than his former team but not much better since they are 5 games behind the Diamondbacks, while the Yankees are 6 games back of the Red Sox.
Lefthanded batters are hitting .063 against Randy Johnson, but righthanded batters are hitting .301 against him.
In his last ten games, Alfonso Soriano has hit .500 along with 7 homers and drove in 15 runs.
Last Sunday was the first time Edinson Volquez allowed more than one run in a game for the first time when he allowed two runs to score. Cliff Lee saw his ERA swell 70 points on Sunday when he allowed 5 runs, as his ERA ballooned from 0.67 to 1.37.
Matt Cain leads Major League pitchers in homers with 2.
Brandon Webb leads in RBI's with 4.
Oliver Perez is the only pitcher in the Majors with a stolen base this season.
Jon Lester, not surprisingly, has the best pitched game of the season according to ESPN.com, giving him a game score of 94.
James Shields has the next highest game score of 93.
Joakim Soria of the Royals is the only closer that has held hitters to hitting below .100 this season with hitters hitting .088 against him.
Nate McLouth has the longest current hitting streak with a 19 game streak.
Trey Hillman and John Russell are the only first year managers, and both have identical 21-23 records.
Jason Kubel leads designated hitters with at least 100 at-bats with a .252 average.
Ichiro Suzuki leads the Majors in stolen bases with 20.