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Jon Lester is the man.

He is now 12-0 against the Orioles.  Undefeated.  That’s the longest winning streak by any active pitcher against any team.  And it wasn’t some wishy-washy win, either.  That was a Win.  With a capital W.

Seven innings, one run on five hits, one walk, seven K’s, one hundred pitches, even.  That one run in the fifth snapped his streak of sixteen and two-thirds scoreless innings against Baltimore.  His cut fastball was ridiculous.  You could tell that nobody was going to hit that.  His curveball was curving.  His sinker was sinking.  His changeup was changing and, by Cash’s observation, has improved a lot.  Cash hadn’t caught Lester since ’08, so he can really see how much Lester has improved.  Apparently, his changeup has most definitely improved.  He used everything, mixed everything, and threw everything for strikes, sixty-seven percent of the time.  A game-high of twenty-two pitches in the first and fifth; a game-low of nine pitches in the fourth and seventh.  He loaded the bases in the first with one out, but he followed it with a double play that featured a very long stretch by Youk to touch the bag.  After that, he settled down really quickly.  He gave up only three hits from the second to the seventh.  Efficiency.  Evenly distributed strike zone.  Movement.  Tight and precise release and location.

He’s now ten and three on the season, racking up wins in the double digits for the third consecutive year.   And he’s got a 2.76 ERA to go with it, and every time he starts, it just keeps going down.  If he doesn’t go to the All-Star Game, there is no justice.  No justice whatsoever.

Ramirez came on in relief and pitched well.  Unfortunately I can’t say the same for Robert Manuel.  He was recently recalled, and it most definitely showed.  The score would’ve been 9-1, but instead it was 9-3 because he gave up a two-run homer that required review.  We did, however, end the game on a high note pitching-wise by getting a flyout from Lugo.

And speaking of those nine runs, here’s how we scored them.  We tagged Guthrie for four in the first inning alone.  That’s almost half our run production in the first.  What a great way to start a game! (For us, not for Guthrie.) Youk hit an RBI double.  Then Drew hit a two-RBI double.  Then Nava hit an RBI double.  In the fifth, Youk hit a two-run shot, and when I say a shot, I mean a shot.  A hanging breaking ball that stayed up.  It sailed over the Green Monster in a hurry, bouncing right off the Sports Authority sign.  Complete with a bow from The K-Men.  I bet Guthrie saw that coming as soon as he released the ball.  You can’t hang a breaking ball and not expect it to be hit for extra basis with our lineup.  We tagged the Orioles’ ‘pen for three more runs in the eighth; Cameron hit an RBI double and scored on Wigginton’s throwing error, and Papi hit an RBI double.

Patterson started at second base admirably.  He started that double play; his throw was a little off, but he did have to hurry.  He made no errors.  Which is more than I can say for Wigginton, who plays regularly.

So, doubles for everyone! Two doubles for Papi, one for Youk, one for Drew, one for Nava, and one for Cameron.  A home run that scored double runs for Youk.  A double play.  Double, double-out RBIs.  That was the theme of the game, ladies and gentlemen, and I have to say, I like it.  I like it a lot.  Unfortunately, the win didn’t change the standings.  The Rays are still two games out (yet another double!), but we’re still half a game out of first place.  Today, Lackey looks to celebrate the Fourth of July with a win at home for Boston.  What better way to celebrate?

Boston Globe Staff/Barry Chin

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