ST. PETERSBURG -- Jon Lester, who is still six months shy of his 30th birthday, joined select company on Wednesday night when he moved into fifth place on the Red Sox's all-time strikeout list.
After punching out five Rays in a 9-2 victory, Lester has 1,110 strikeouts in a Boston uniform, which allowed him to pass former teammate Josh Beckett to crack into the team's top five.
"That's pretty cool. It's not something that you play for," Lester said. "I play to win games and hopefully win World Series. If it just so happens along the way your name moves along those lists, then great. Obviously it's an honor when you guys bring that stuff up. I don't really pay attention to it. It's an honor to be with those names that I'm sure are still ahead of me, and hopefully I can keep pitching, and hopefully we can bring more World Series here."
Lester is 231 strikeouts from tying Cy Young for fourth on the team's all-time list. Pedro Martinez is still well off in the distance with 1,683 K's. Tim Wakefield is second with 2,046. Could Lester pitch long enough with the Red Sox to break the team record of 2,590 by Roger Clemens?
"I don't know. That's up to the guys in the front office. Talk to them about that," quipped Lester. "We'll see."
Lester is 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA this season.
The Red Sox hold a $13 million option on Lester for 2014, which they are sure to pick up, provided he avoids a major injury. After that, he would be eligible for free agency.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.