Farrell mulled starting Lester on short rest

BOSTON -- The past two times a pitcher won three starts in a World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals were involved both times. In 1967, Bob Gibson beat the Red Sox three times as the Cardinals won in seven games, and the following year, Mickey Lolich of the Tigers beat Gibson's Cardinals three times as the Tigers won in seven. The Sox tried to answer Gibson with Jim Lonborg in '67 -- Gentleman Jim won Game 2, came back on three days' rest to win Game 5, then returned on two days' rest in Game 7, inspiring the famous "Lonborg and champagne" quote from Sox manager Dick Williams when asked his game plan for the Series decider.

Lonborg gave up six runs in six innings, while Gibson, working on three days' rest, pitched a complete-game three-hitter in a 7-1 Cardinals win.

Why the history lesson? Because on Saturday, Red Sox manager John Farrell acknowledged there was "some conversation" about throwing left-hander Jon Lester three times against the Cardinals, given the uncertainty regarding Game 4 starter Clay Buchholz, but the Sox decided against doing so.

"History shows that's not been successful," Farrell said. "Even looking at the broader perspective, the last seven, eight weeks of the season he pitched on [the sixth day] the entire time. He pitched [on the fifth day] in Detroit, a little different stuff. It was noticeable.

"I recognize that we're in the World Series time of year, but I'd rather have Jon Lester at normal rest than three days of rest."

Since the beginning of August, including four starts in the postseason, Lester has made eight starts with at least five days' rest, including Game 1 of the World Series in which he went 7 2/3 scoreless innings. In those eight starts, Lester has gone at least seven innings five times, and has a 1.96 ERA, holding the opposition to two or fewer runs in seven of those starts. The only exception was his last regular-season start in Baltimore, a tuneup to the postseason, in which he gave up four earned runs in five innings. Throw out that start, and the ERA becomes 1.44.

During the regular season, Lester made 18 starts on four days' rest and went 8-6 with a 4.24 ERA. In 15 starts in which he had five or more days of rest, he was 5-2 with a 2.91 ERA. So the rest is of obvious benefit.

The Cardinals went with starter Chris Carpenter three times in 2011, but only because a rainout before Game 6 gave him an extra day of rest, allowing him to go on three days' rest. Carpenter won Game 1, was not involved in the decision in Game 5 and won Game 7 against the Texas Rangers.