Lester, who has K’d 10 or more in each of his last three starts, begin the night third in the AL in whiffs with 196, behind only Felix Hernandez of the Mariners (209) and Jered Weaver of the Angels (205).
Lester may have as many as five more starts to exceed the career-best 225 batters he struck out in 203 1/3 innings last season. He has pitched 182 innings so far this season.
Lester already has had 13 games of 10 or more strikeouts in his career, which ties him with Bruce Hurst for fourth most in Red Sox history. Pedro Martinez holds the club record with 72, four more than Roger Clemens. Smokey Joe Wood is third with 33.
Lester’s first 10-K game came on June 21, 2006. Since then, Josh Beckett has had five 10-strikeout games, Daisuke Matsuzaka three, Curt Schilling two and John Lackey (for the Red Sox) and Clay Buchholz one apiece.
Trivia question: One Sox pitcher had 10 games of 10 K’s or more for the Sox before his 23d birthday, and never had another. Can you name him? (Hint: post-1960).
On a semi-related note is this great story told Tuesday night by longtime baseball executive and scout Joe McIlvaine. In 1981, McIlvaine, then the Mets scouting director, reassigned one of his area scouts from Michigan to Texas. The scout recommended a junior college pitcher drafted by the Mets in the 13th round.
The scout told McIlvaine the team should give the pitcher $25,000 to sign, a not-insignificant amount at the time. McIlvaine sent another scout to see the pitcher; he said the club should not give him more than $15,000. McIlvaine had gone twice to see the pitcher himself, but each time the game was rained out. McIlvaine deferred to the veteran scout.
“And for the difference of $10,000,’’ McIlvaine said, “we passed on Roger Clemens. We could have had Clemens and Dwight Gooden at the same time.
"Some things,'' he said, "just aren't meant to be.''
Clemens, who was not drafted out of high school, transferred to the University of Texas and was drafted in the first round two years later by the Red Sox.
Trivia answer: Dave Morehead struck out 10 or more 10 times before he turned 23, the first time as a 20-year-old in 1963. Morehead, who was 23 when he threw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians, had arm injuries that short-circuited his career, though he appeared twice in relief in the 1967 World Series.