EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 18, 2013

Lester goes 6 perfect innings

Christopher Smith
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Red Sox 5, Tampa Bay 1

Game ball: Give it to Jon Lester who pitched six perfect innings before being relieved. Lester has been terrific this spring. He has allowed just two earned runs in 20.0 innings. He also has allowed just six hits and four walks while striking out 16.

Second Sox star: Left fielder Jonny Gomes was 3 for 3 with a double and four RBIs. Everyone knows the right-handed slugger bashes left-handed pitching. The .244 career hitter has batted .284 with a .382 on-base percentage, .512 slugging percentage and .894 OPS against southpaws during his career. But yesterday, Gomes did all his damages vs. righties.

Doubling it: Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks stroked two doubles and scored twice. He is batting .276 this spring.

Nearly perfect: Four Red Sox pitchers combined for nearly a perfect game. Lester threw six perfect innings. Anthony Carter pitched a perfect seventh inning and Joel Hanrahan hurled a perfect eighth. Marco Duarte retired the first batter he faced in the ninth inning but then allowed an infield single.

A hit at last: Newcomer Shane Victorino stroked his first hit in spring training action for the Red Sox. He is 1 for 14. He missed time with Boston while playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. He went just 1 for 11 for Team USA with one RBI, five strikeouts and no walks.

Red Sox today: Boston plays against Pittsburgh today at 1:05 p.m. Red Sox probable pitchers are RHP Clay Buchholz, RHP Koji Uehara, RHP Oscar Villarreal and RHP Chris Carpenter. Look out for both Buchholz and Uehara. Buchholz hasn’t allowed a run in 8.1 innings this spring. He has squandered six hits and two walks and struck out seven. Uehara hasn’t given up a run and has allowed just one hit in six innings this spring.

Odds and ends: DH David Ortiz (inflammation in heels) likely will be placed on DL to start the regular season and shortstop Stephen Drew (concussion) might miss Opening Day. Ortiz may or may not begin hitting again today and Drew has only played catch since feeling his symptoms. ... Southpaw Franklin Morales (buldging disc in lower back) likely will start throwing this week, but he and fellow left-handed reliever Craig Breslow (shoulder) won’t be ready for Opening Day. ... Mike Napoli went 1 for 3 and is batting .348 this spring. ... If Drew is out on Opening Day, Jose Igelsias might start at shortstop. .... Jackie Bradley Jr. and Ryan Lavarnway remain options to make the team with Ortiz likely headed to the DL.