FORT MYERS, Fla. – Jon Lester was perfect. Boston’s entire pitching staff nearly was on the day.
Lester retired 18 consecutive batters and combined with his bullpen to hold the Tampa Bay Rays without a baserunner until one out in the ninth, leading the Red Sox to a 5-1 victory Sunday.
Jason Bourgeois reached on an infield hit in the ninth against Marco Duarte, Boston’s fourth pitcher.
Lester, Boston’s projected opening-day starter, struck out six and threw 53 of 79 pitches for strikes. He has allowed two runs, six hits and four walks over five starts and 20 innings, striking out 16.
“Eighteen up, 18 down,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “I thought the one thing that stood out to me was the number of 3-2 pitches that he executed. … He pitched with a lot of confidence. Didn’t overthrow. But yet, at the same time, we’re seeing an increase in power from start to start. Very sharp, obviously.”
Four of Lester’s six strikeouts ended innings. He set the tone early, with two strikeouts in the first inning.
“Was able to get in a good rhythm early on, established our fastball, just kind of went from there,” he said. “I had a good breaking ball today, which was good to see. We’ve been working on that. So all in all it was good day.”
Anthony Carter and Joel Hanrahan each pitched a perfect inning for Boston.
Bourgeois beat out a slow roller behind the second-base bag fielded by second baseman Jonathan Diaz, who didn’t have a play on the speedy runner. After reaching, Bourgeois advanced on Christian Vazquez’s two-out passed ball and scored on Cole Figueroa’s ground-rule double.
Jonny Gomes was 3 for 3 with four RBI for the Red Sox, who wore green uniforms and caps on St. Patrick’s Day.
“Jonny with three very good at-bats today against right-handed pitching,” said Farrell. “I know he wants more opportunities against right-handers. You keep driving in four runs in three at-bats, you’ll keep getting those opportunities.”
YANKEES: Mark Teixeira says he has a partially torn tendon sheath in his right wrist and didn’t rule out missing up to two months of the regular season.
The first baseman rejoined the New York Yankees at spring training after hurting his right wrist March 5 while with the U.S. team at the World Baseball Classic. The injury initially was called a strained right wrist.
“The tendon is fine,” Teixeira said. “That’s the good thing. It’s the sheath that holds the tendon over. … We just want to make sure that the tendon is sitting in the groove right and it’s stable. If that doesn’t heal, then the tendon has a chance to get damaged, and you really don’t want that.”
Teixeira plans to start limited baseball drills in about a week and is optimistic that surgery will not be necessary.
DODGERS: Right-hander Zack Greinke threw off a mound for the first time since he was shut down March 11 with inflammation in his right elbow.
Greinke threw 38 pitches and said he felt good. It’s not clear whether he’ll be ready for his first scheduled start April 2.
METS: David Wright wanted to make it clear that playing in the World Baseball Classic had nothing to do with the rib injury he sustained that could cause him to miss opening day for the Mets.
He explained that “you can get hurt in spring training, you can get hurt before spring training,” and that he didn’t get hurt because of the tournament.
Wright said he is unsure of whether or not he will be able to play on April 1 in the season-opener against San Diego at Citi Field.
Wright strained an intercostal muscle in his rib cage while working out in Arizona before the tournament.
Wright’s potential replacement, Justin Turner, who sprained his right ankle Saturday, underwent X-rays, which were negative.