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Game #114: Jon Lester Flirts with Perfection, Settles for Excellence

Ezra Shaw

A few months ago, I took a bus from my tiny New England college to see the A’s play the Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston. Thanks to the wonders of a Liberal Arts education, I hadn’t seen an A’s game in person since the previous August — I missed the clinching game, I missed the ALDS,  I missed opening day, etc, etc. I was so excited to see what may be the best A’s team I’ve seen face a weak Red Sox team. Beautiful ballpark, good chance of a win versus a hapless team, what more could I want?

Jon Lester ruined my vacation with one of the most impressive pitching performances I have ever seen live, ever. I’ve seen shutouts, I’ve seen great pitchers — hell, I’ve gone to almost every Felix Hernandez opening day start! But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pitcher as dominant as Jon Lester on May 3rd. 15 Ks, 2 BB, 1 H, 0 R, 8 IP. It’s a credit to the A’s that they managed to get him out before the 9th inning.

Basically, what I’m trying to get at here is that when Jon Lester is good, he is really, really good. Really, really, really, ridiculously, absurdly good. Today Jon Lester was good. He was really, really, absurdly good. In the immortal words of Daric Barton, he proved the doubters wrong.

I really can’t recap what Lester did tonight, because most of his innings were uneventful, dull, dominant affairs. There’s only so many ways I can say "JON LESTER IS GOOD", people! But suffice to say, if you weren’t totally convinced that Jon Lester is the ace of the staff and a top-five pitcher, well, you should be. Lester is good. Lester is good. Lester is good. Lester is good. Lester is good. Lester is good.

The only time he really showed signs of giving anything, anything, anything at all up was in the 6th inning, directly after losing the perfect game/no-hitter. Kurt Suzuki led off the inning with a single, followed by another single, followed by two Ks (because Jon Lester is good), followed by a walk, loading the bases. During the walk, there was a terrifying moment where Brian Dozier hit an almost home run that hooked inches foul. But it didn’t matter because Chris Collabello grounded out to Josh Donaldson, and the shutout continued.

Meanwhile, the A’s offense wasn’t great, but it was perfectly serviceable. Every single slumpy-slump-0-fer-slump got broken up — Brandon Moss came inches from a home run and settled for a double and a run scored, John Jaso hit a bloop single, and Stephen Vogt bashed a two-run home run to RF, ending an 0-23 skid. Because if you didn’t believe in Stephen Vogt, he wants you to know that you’re dumb.

Eric Sogard, major league shortstop, had a fantastic game as well. Great defense and went 2-4 with a stolen base. One of those outs was a pulled warning track flyout. God, imagine if Eric Sogard hit two home runs in two games. Obviously he didn’t and probably won’t, ever. But just think about it. That was almost really cool.

BoMel certainly tried to manufacture a few more runs, which led to one of the more hilarious managerial mess-ups I’ve seen from BoMel. Callaspo led off the 8th inning with a walk, and Sam Fuld was called to pinch run for him and ran to first base. However, since Jed Lowrie was DHing and was the only available middle-infielder, the A’s would’ve had to give up the DH. Fuld managed to leave the field without being forced to play, but if the umpires were harsher, they absolutely could’ve forced Melvin to pull Lowrie from the DH. Meaning we came weirdly close to a Jon Lester AB, which would’ve been a great way to cap off both a CGSO and Bob Melvin’s 800th win as a manager.

But, for once, the offense wasn’t the story, because that was enough. Plenty. As far as Lester was concerned, that was a goddamn abundance of runs. Leave the bases loaded? Whatever, I’ll just strike a few more dudes out. Whatever.

Lester got his fourth career complete game shutout. 3 H, 8 K, 2 BB, 9 IP, 0 R. John Lester is good. John Lester is good. John Lester is good. John Lester is good. John Lester is good.