On May 19, against the Royals, Boston pitcher Jon Lester capped a brilliant comeback from cancer when he became the 18th pitcher in Red Sox history to throw a no-hitter. On Tuesday he joined Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordoñez as the co-Bank of America American League Player of the Week.
"It's something that I'll remember forever; a lot of excitement," Lester said after the no-no. "I think I had more adrenaline going in the ninth inning than I did in the first inning, which I guess is normal for that situation. It was great. The fans were great; they're on their feet yelling and screaming. It was probably one of the loudest times I've heard Fenway [Park] when I've been out there pitching."
Interestingly enough, Lester and Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek -- who has now caught a Major League-record four no-hitters in his career -- both agreed the hurler didn't have his best stuff while warming up in the bullpen before his start. But the 6-foot-2 left-hander seemed to get better as the game progressed, as he ended up striking out nine batters while giving up just two walks in 130 pitches.
Lester, who is 3-3 with a 3.55 ERA in 12 starts this season, earned the award for the first time in his three-year career after going 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 14 innings over the week. But what made him stand out was the no-hitter. After he struck out Alberto Callaspo to make it official, he was mobbed by teammates and, as he walked toward the dugout, shared a warm embrace with Boston manager Terry Francona.
The skipper couldn't have been happier for his 24-year-old pitcher, who less than 21 months ago was diagnosed with anaplastic large-cell lymphoma and wound up overcoming it after six chemotherapy treatments.
"This probably isn't fair to say, but I feel like my son graduated and my [other] son threw a no-hitter," Francona said after the no-hitter. "It couldn't happen to a better kid. It's probably selfish on my part to even say something like that, but I think it's obvious how we feel about this kid."
Not much has come in the form of good news for the Tigers this season, but Ordoñez was definitely a bright spot last week.
The 5-foot-11 right-handed hitter hit .478 (11-for-23) with three home runs, nine RBIs and four doubles as Detroit went 4-2 on the week, though the Tigers sit 7 1/2 games behind the White Sox in the AL Central.
Ordoñez's week was highlighted in Detroit's 19-run barrage against Minnesota on Saturday. That night, Ordoñez went 3-for-3 with two home runs, six RBIs, four runs scored, a double and a walk. He opened the scoring in the first with a two-run homer, gave the Tigers the lead for good with a two-run double in the third and broke open the game in the fifth with his second two-run shot, which made it a nine-run game.
This marks the eighth time Ordoñez has been named Player of the Week.
"He's an outstanding hitter, and when he's zeroed in or locked in, he led the [American League] in hitting," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after the May 24 game. "That pretty much says it all."
Lester and Ordoñez will receive luxury Swiss Tourneau timepieces for their accomplishments.
Athletics designated hitter Frank Thomas (.455, four homers, six RBIs), Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (.320 BA, three doubles, three homers, 10 RBIs) and Twins pitcher Glen Perkins (2-0, 1.93 ERA, 14 innings pitched, seven strikeouts) were also considered.
Alden Gonzalez is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.