It was Jon Lester’s talent, not the rosin, that won Game 1
A terrific line of 7.2 innings, 0 R, 5 hits, 1 BB, and 8 K followed Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester off the mound to a rousing ovation at Fenway Park as he exited Game 1 of the 2013 World Series. For most pitchers, the night would have ended when the Red Sox completed the 8-1 win and prepared for Game 2 with the St. Louis Cardinals. However, for Lester, it dragged into Thursday because of something found on his glove.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch and Adam McCalvey reported on the greenish substance found on Lester’s glove, which the photo on their article clearly shows. A tweet from a Cardinals Minor League pitcher included an accusation that Lester may have doctored the ball. The tweet is no longer there, but, as Langosch wrote, the pitcher questioned whether or not Lester used Vaseline. Video of Lester rubbing the spot also circulated the Internet on Thursday.
The Cardinals made no complaint, and MLB officials concluded that there is no evidence of Lester’s tampering with the ball. So, then what is it? It was rosin — the same powder that all pitchers use to keep their hands dry. Lester uses it a lot because he sweats a lot. Lester commented about it when asked:
“The rosin bag’s back there for a reason, and I just so happen to put it in my glove. That seems to be the best system for me that works. I’m going to continue to do it. That’s really it.”
Even Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny had no problem with the rosin and gave credit to Lester for doing a great job:
“We were unaware of this and feel it is a non-issue…. If that’s what [Lester] claims, then that’s what it is. That’s all there is to it.”
Whether with rosin or anything else, Jon Lester does not need to tamper with the ball to win games. His career record of 100-56 and 3.76 ERA (including a no-hitter after undergoing cancer treatments) will attest to that as will his 5-4, 2.22 record in now 13 postseason games.
Lester simply dominated Cardinal hitters all night by mixing his speeds and locations and using pinpoint control. A doctored ball is much harder to control because it has extra movement on it. Besides, catcher David Ross had no trouble at all catching it. Finally, the Red Sox offense put the game away early on a Mike Napoli three-run double in the first inning following a crucial Pete Kozma error. The Red Sox added on from there, so by the time Matt Holliday homered for the Cardinals in the ninth, the rosin was a moot point.
The substance is rosin, and with the way Lester threw the ball, he did not need any extra help. It was his talent — and the Red Sox offense — that won Game 1.