Farrell: Lester will start ALDS Game 1 for Red Sox

Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell waited until all of his
players safely made it out of a simulated game on Wednesday before
confirming what he’d only hinted at before: Left-hander Jon Lester
will start Game 1 of the AL division series.

”He’s been outstanding in the second half,” Farrell said in
the clubhouse. ”The last couple of starts he’s put together for us
have been very strong.”

Lester was 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA this season, but he won his
first six decisions and seven of his last nine. From May 20 through
the All-Star break, he went 2-6 with a 6.27 ERA.

Lester will be followed in the rotation by John Lackey and Clay
Buchholz, with Jake Peavy ready to pitch Game 4 of the best-of-five
series against Tampa Bay if necessary. The Rays advanced with a 4-0
victory at Cleveland in the AL wild-card game Wednesday night.

The Red Sox have not played since finishing the regular season
on Sept. 29 with a 97-65 record that tied the St. Louis Cardinals
for the best in baseball. In order to stay sharp, the Red Sox held
a workout on Tuesday and played a simulated game – red vs. blue –
on Wednesday.

”Today is part of doing what we can to ensure that we’re
prepared, and not letting a four-day layoff affect us,” Farrell
said. ”No one’s looking at the layoff as a detriment.”

Almost 4,000 fans came to the ballpark to hear public address
announcer Dick Flavin announce, ”Welcome to today’s game between
the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Red Sox.” Children lined up for
balloon animals or to have their faces painted while former Red Sox
infielder Ted Lepcio signed autographs on the concourse.

The blue team, which included most of the regulars, won 1-0 on a
first-inning double by Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

”Obviously, it wasn’t a real game atmosphere,” infielder Will
Middlebrooks said, adding that it was good to see live pitching
after one day off and another with a more traditional workout.
”Today we picked it up a bit. Two days off is a lot for us. You
don’t want to get too used to that.”

Lester did not pitch in the simulated game. Buchholz went three
innings and allowed one run, Peavy pitched two scoreless innings
and Lackey pitched one.

”I’m pretty glad I’m on this side,” outfielder Jonny Gomes
said after facing his teammates.

Most importantly, no one was hurt. Farrell has been reminded
this week that in a scrimmage between the end of the 1946 season
and the World Series that year, Ted Williams was hit on the right
elbow by a pitch in a tuneup game and went on to bat 5 for 25 – all
singles – in the Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Red Sox lost in seven games.

No baserunners tried to break up double plays on Wednesday. And,
except for a diving catch in right field by reserve Quintin Berry,
nothing especially dangerous happened.

”I think everyone understands the purpose of today,” Farrell
said before the game, adding after: ”Our pitchers were cognizant
of not trying to pitch inside. But we got our work in.”

Farrell also said on Wednesday that the team will carry 11
pitchers for the postseason. The roster decisions have mostly been
made, he said without announcing them; the final rosters are due at
10 a.m. on Friday, the morning of Game 1.