BOSTON -- On the verge of setting the Red Sox team record for most postseason series Game 1 starts, Jon Lester spoke to the media during Friday's team workout in preparation for Saturday's ALCS contest against the Detroit Tigers.
"Obviously they [have] a very tough lineup," Lester said. "You have to be on top of your game from pitch one to however long you're in the game for."
Saturday will mark Lester's fourth postseason Game 1 start, moving him ahead of Josh Beckett, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez for sole possession of the club's record. In his previous three postseason Game 1 starts, all in the ALDS (2008, 2009, 2013), Lester is 2-1 with 2.18 ERA. All three outings were quality starts.
"He's a very concrete thinker," manager John Farrell said. "And that allows him to, I think, achieve a high level of concentration and maintain it for the time that he's on the mound."
During his career, Lester has always pitched well in the playoffs. The 29-year-old is 3-3 in seven postseason starts, maintaining an impressive 2.54 ERA and allowing only 37 hits in 49 2/3 innings. In Game 1 of the ALDS against Tampa Bay, Lester went 7 2/3 innings and held the Rays to two runs on three hits.
"It's a matter of now you're running on adrenaline," Lester said about his postseason success. "You don't really care how your body feels anymore, you're just trying to keep that ultimate prize in front of you and think about that."
In his last outing against the Tigers, Lester defeated AL Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer 2-1 Sept. 3 at Fenway Park. Now, Lester is facing off against Anibal Sanchez, the winner of the AL's ERA title and a teammate of Lester's with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs back in 2005. That winter, Sanchez and top prospect Hanley Ramirez were sent to the (then) Florida Marlins in exchange for Beckett and Mike Lowell.
"Obviously his stats speak for themselves," Lester said of Sanchez. "You know it's going to be tough, just like the rest of their pitching staff. You've got to keep them within reach and just hope they have a bad game."
Farrell and Tigers manager Jim Leyland announced their starting rotations through Game 4 Friday afternoon. Clay Buchholz will face Max Scherzer at Fenway Sunday night while John Lackey and Jake Peavy will start Games 3 and 4, respectively, against Justin Verlander and Doug Fister on Tuesday and Wednesday.