Jon Lester hopes to continue his strong start to the season on Thursday when the Boston Red Sox close out a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
Lester was again terrific on Saturday against Tampa Bay, but had nothing to show for it, as he received a no-decision, despite allowing just a run and five hits in seven innings.
Coming off a season in which Lester set career highs with 14 losses, a 4.82 ERA and 25 home runs allowed, the left-hander is 2-0 this year with a 1.42 ERA and has struck out 18 batters in 19 innings.
Lester's early season roll should continue on Thursday, as he owns a 5-1 lifetime mark versus the Indians with a 3.34 ERA in 11 starts.
Cleveland, meanwhile, will hand the ball to righty Zach McAllister, who is 1-1 with a 2.19 ERA. McAllister defeated the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, holding them to three runs (1 earned) and five hits in 6 1/3 frames.
"Command of his fastball today was tremendous," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona of McAllister. "He started the game out, we have an error, we give up a couple runs, we come right back and he settled in throwing a lot of quality strikes with his fastball."
McAllister has split his two starts against the Red Sox and has pitched to a 3.60 ERA in those meetings.
Boston's early season success continued on Wednesday, as Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava each drove in a pair of runs to help the Red Sox to a 6-3 win. Mike Carp finished 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and an RBI triple for Boston, which has taken the first two in the set and five straight overall.
"I don't want to downplay the events that we just left in Boston, but I think what we've quickly come to see is a group that likes to be around one another," Boston manager John Farrell said. "Those are encouraging signs."
Boston starter Alfredo Aceves (1-0) pitched into the sixth inning, snagging the decision after allowing seven hits and three runs. Andrew Bailey fanned two in a scoreless ninth to earn his first save.
Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer and Jason Giambi added a solo shot for the Indians, who have lost three straight.
Justin Masterson (3-1) was tagged for 11 hits and four runs in defeat despite five strikeouts over five innings.
"It wasn't as fun as the last three I pitched, but over a season when you have 30-plus starts you're going to have some like this," Masterson, an ex-Red Sox pitcher, said. "I kept it close as much as I could."
Boston was 5-3 against the Indians last season.