Cancer Survivor Throws No-Hitter Vs Royals

Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury's diving catch on Guillen's blooper in the fourth will be remembered as the no-hit saver in much the same way Dustin Pedroia's spectacular defense preserved Buchholz's no-hitter against Baltimore in September. But it was impossible to overlook the contribution of catcher Jason Varitek, who did the usual mind-meld with his pitcher on the way to catching his fourth career no-hitter.

"Every pitcher has complete trust in what he calls," Farrell said when reached by phone Monday night, "and that allows guys to relax so that their best stuff comes out."

In the late innings, the noise from the stands had to be loud to drown out all those grinding teeth in the Boston dugout. Farrell ferociously chomped gum from the top step, and owners John Henry and Tom Werner gradually shifted from an upstairs suite to the box seats to watch the conclusion. By that time, Manny Ramirez had taken his inevitable seat in favor of a defensive replacement.

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Now that the hugs and high fives are over, recent history tells us that the follow-up to a no-hitter isn't necessarily a straight vertical line. When Detroit's Justin Verlander blew away the Brewers in June 2007, the praise was so effusive it appeared he could just skip the rest of his career and go straight to Cooperstown. Now, Verlander is 1-7 with a 6.05 ERA for a last-place club and smack in the middle of a reality check.

Buchholz, who dazzled the Orioles in September, is 2-3 with a 5.53 ERA and currently on the disabled list with a broken fingernail. That didn't prevent him from applauding his teammate like crazy Monday.

When you think about what might have been, it's amazing that Lester was even here -- and his recovery from anaplastic large cell lymphoma was only part of the backdrop. Remember those Ramirez-for-Alex Rodriguez trade talks between Boston and Texas in December 2003? Lester would have been headed to Texas in the deal if the two clubs had managed to pull it off.

"Jon has lived a full life at age 24 for what he's endured, overcome and experienced," Farrell said. "And he has such a bright future. When you look at his attributes, both physically and mentally, you can envision him being a premium starter in the big leagues for a long, long time."

In the immediate aftermath of the 18th no-hitter in Red Sox history, it's not the time for would-haves, could-haves or should-haves. Jon Lester's dreams keep turning into reality, and he likes things just the way they are.

Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN.com. His book "License To Deal" was published by Rodale. Click here to order a copy. Jerry can be reached via e-mail.

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