Battling and surviving through a scare as monumental and life-threatening as cancer would have been enough. Returning to the mound, his own personal pitching haven, to throw a major league game less than a year after the cancer diagnosis would have been enough. Clinching the World Series with a six inning masterpiece would have surely been enough.
Throwing a no-hitter on a chilly mid-May night at Fenway is going beyond anyon’s expectations, Jon.
Never before has Jon Lester patched together such a masterful outing pitching as a professional. The troubles that have haunted him for years now in the Red Sox system seemingly floated away with the whiff of an opposing Royals bat Monday night- the inopportune walks, the lapses of command, the constant increasing pitch count, the lack of one quality out pitch to mold himself into a lights out starter his prospect rankings previously suggested.
Last year, we all enjoyed Clay Buchholz toss a no-hitter against the Orioles at Fenway Park, a flamboyant and hyped starter who jolted up the Red Sox system and into the spotlight. That night was special for so many reasons, nobody can denounce what Buchholz was able to accomplish with such minimal experience. Still, for Jon Lester to toe the rubber just 18 months after being diagnosed with cancer, don the Red Sox uniform with grace and humilityÇƒ∂and toss a no-hitter when nobody saw it coming. That is special.
|With the last pitch, and the crowd noise rising to a deafening pitch, and with me attempting to see anything I could, I heard about the no hitter simply due to the crowd reaction and the wonderful start to Dirty Water. From there on, I remember hugging everyone around me, and taking blurry, vague photos of the reaction.—Sean O’s first-hand take|
Maybe we were underestimating what Lester is capable of doing on the mound. His fastball only got stronger and stronger as the magnificent outing wore on. From the sixth inning on, LesterÇƒÙs elevated heater at 94-95 gave top hitters like Jose Guillen and Billy Butler headaches, with continued and consistent velocity and location even at 115, 120, 130 pitches. The cut fastball was worked masterfully on the inner half, the sweeping curveball thrown for strikes. This is the Jon Lester we all know can be an absolute force for the Red Sox for many, many years.
I got home from work Tuesday to the news that Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and would be fighting for his life in the upcoming months. As a long-time admirer of Kennedy, and through knowing that Ted is a prideful Red Sox fan, the connection was evident. Never did I think IÇƒÙd be saying that Ted Kennedy could view Jon Lester as a source of hope and admiration, not someone as accomplished at Ted and as small on a national scale as Jon.
The thing is, it really doesnÇƒÙt matter if youÇƒÙre Ted Kennedy, an 88-year old Sox fan in Mass General or a child at Dana FarberÇƒ∂you can be anyone that has suffered from a horrific life-stealing disease like cancer. To see Jon Lester come so far in so little time has to be motivation, and IÇƒÙm sure heÇƒÙs beaming at the thought that doing something as easy as throwing a baseball could influence so many lives.
As Joe Posnanski wrote in his outstanding blog piece after the game Monday, sometimes you gather a sense a magical and transcendent event may soon happen right before your eyes. For all readers that were able to see LesterÇƒÙs masterpiece from a cramped Fenway seat, I hope you took one second to soak in the moment. A no-hitter is baseball history at its finest.
And who better to throw one than Jon Lester.
For more Fire Brand coverage of Lester’s no hitter be sure to check out guest columnist Sean O’s first hand account of the night at Fenway Park. You can also listen to Paul and Tim’s take in this week’s episode of the Fireside Chats Red Sox podcast.
Categories: Jon Lester