The Red Sox have held on to their 3-1 lead through the sixth inning thanks to Jon Lester, who has settled in nicely since his early difficulties.
Looking back, the third now seems a clear turning point for Lester. Having allowed a pair of baserunners in each of the first two innings, the third saw the Rays go quickly, and in order, with Ben Zobrist striking out to finish the frame. Zobrist’s K would prove to be the first in a series of four straight strikeouts fired off by Lester, who allowed just one baserunner in the middle three innings, at one point retiring twelve straight batters.
James Shields hasn’t been much worse. While he’s not had the strikeout going nearly so well as Lester, a walk to Kevin Youkilis to lead off the fourth proved the only blemish he’s shown in the same time period. His pitch count is low, too, so even if the Rays can’t cover the gap, he should prove capable of sparing the bullpen.