It’s been almost a decade since a Red Sox pitcher threw a no-hitter, and with the team finally having an ace, it’s time to take a look back at that day.
After the Red Sox won in it all in 2007, a rotation led by Josh Beckett emerged in 2008 with a future ace, Jon Lester. Clay Buchholz showed signs of talents the previous year after throwing a no-hitter in his second Major League start, but 2008 was a disappointment for him, posting a 6.75 ERA with 2 wins, 9 losses and pitching barely 76.0 innings.
Lester was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma in 2006 and missed the first half of the 2007 season. However, he became a pivotal part of the World Series team by winning the series-clinching Game 4, pitching 5.2 innings, only giving up three hits and no runs.
The left-handed pitcher was looking forward to his first full season in the Major Leagues in 2008 and did not disappoint. He ended up winning 16 games and leading the team with innings pitched at 210.1. The highlight of his season and probably his career, came on May 19, where he pitched the last Red Sox no-hitter to date.
Entering the game, the Red Sox had a 27-19 record, leading the division with the Tampa Bay Rays trailing by just one game. The Red Sox were trying to stop the momentum that the Rays and Orioles had, who both had won 7 of their last 10 games.
The 24-year old Lester was facing the Kansas City Royals, who were no threat back in the day. A strange lineup that featured Alex Gordon batting third and playing third base was ready to face the lefty. Lester ended up allowing only two baserunners, by walking first baseman Billy Butler in the second inning and left fielder Esteban German to open the ninth.
The Red Sox gave Lester seven runs to work with, by scoring five in the third inning and two on the sixth. The lefty found himself in trouble after Jose Guillen hit a long drive to center field that looked as if it was going to be a double, but Jacoby Ellsbury made an incredible catch to end the top half of the 4th and keep the no-hitter.
Alberto Callaspo, who pinch-hit for Mark Grudzielanek on the bottom half of the 7th, was the last out of Lester’s no-no. After falling to a 1-2 count, Callaspo struck out on a fastball to end the game.
It was Jason Varitek‘s fourth and last no-no, setting the record on most no-hitters caught. Lester also joined Nolan Ryan as the only two pitchers in Major League history to no-hit the Royals, with Ryan doing it first in 1973.
That game set the tone for Lester’s career, which eventually brought him as the ace of the Red Sox and an essential part of the team for nine years. Lester came close to pitching no-hitter two times with Boston, the first one being in 2013 against the Toronto Blue Jays, facing only 28 batters. The second time was in his last season with the Red Sox in 2014 when he faced the Oakland A’s and pitched eight one-hit innings with a career-high of 15 strikeouts.
For the first time since the Lester Trade in 2014, the Red Sox finally have a proven ace in David Price. Price has never thrown a no-hitter, but it wouldn’t be crazy to assume that maybe he can be the next Red Sox pitcher to do so.