Jon Lester left his victory over the Tampa Bay Rays after six innings in part because he tweaked his right groin, but both manager Terry Francona and Lester believe the ailment, which first surfaced tonight in the later innings of the start, is not serious and will not cost Lester any future starts.
“I don’t think it’s going to be anything that’s going to hinder me,” Lester said.
Lester started feeling the groin pull in about the fourth inning. In the start of the sixth inning, Ramon Ramirez warmed up in the bullpen just in case Lester needed to leave. After the sixth, despite throwing 97 pitches, the fewest in any of his starts since May 9, Lester exited.
“As far as pitching goes, he didn’t need to come out of that game,” Francona said. “We didn’t want to let him aggravate something that would linger into the next start. I think we’re fine.”
Lester earned his 11th win. He stuck out nine and upped his strikeout total for the season to 196, which surpassed Bruce Hurst’s team record of 191 strikeouts by a lefthanded pitcher.
Lester has thrown 173 2/3 innings this season, putting on pace to approach his career high of 210 1/3 from last season, when he blew away his previous total.
“Last year, everything was eye-opening,” Lester said. “Everything was made out to be bigger than it was because I had never been through it before. Whereas this year, I learned how to take the bumps and bruises of a long season, how to pitch not 100 percent. I think I’m better prepared this year than I am last year.”