Had the Red Sox just been dealt a fatal blow to their hopes of winning a third World Series in the past six years?
Much to the relief of Lester, his teammates and the passionate fan base known as Red Sox Nation, the answer is no.
The ball struck Lester on the side of the knee, instead of a direct hit to the bone. X-rays were negative, and the diagnosis was a contusion of Lester's right quad.
"Any time they hit a ball off any part of your body, you're worried," said Lester. "But everything came back fine. We'll treat it and go from there."
Though Lester had to leave the game right after getting hit with one out in the bottom of the third inning, he was able to walk off under his own power in the Red Sox's 9-5 loss to the Yankees.
"We were very relieved," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "It looked bad. Now that we've got the medical report, it's pretty positive that he's going to be OK. We'll see how sore he is. If that soreness gets in the way of his next couple of days, that's hopefully the issue we're dealing with as opposed to getting wacked in the knee and having something wrong."
If the knee responds the way Lester thinks it will, he will make his next scheduled start on Thursday night against the Indians. Lester is currently the top candidate to pitch Game 1 of the American League Division Series, though Boston has made no formal announcement on that yet. The Red Sox lost to the Yankees, but they have a magic number of just three to clinch a postseason berth.
|"Any time they hit a ball off any part of your body, you're worried. But everything came back fine. We'll treat it and go from there."|
|-- Jon Lester|
"We dodged a big bullet there, being as he's one of our No. 1 guys," said Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay. "It was very scary."
As heated as the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is, players in the New York clubhouse had nothing but well wishes for Lester.
"You hope and pray that he's OK," said Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain, who earned the win on Friday. "I got a chance to do some things with him in the offseason and find out just what a special kind of person he is. It's scary. As pitchers, you go out there and you never wish bad upon anybody, especially with the type of year that he's had and the type of things he's done for his team. I hope everything's OK."
Much to the relief of the Red Sox, it appears that everything is indeed OK with the big left-hander.
"When I was with him, he was laying on the ground," Francona said. "Came up and checked on him and he was icing it, and the reports were that he was pretty quickly already moving around. Yeah, when we get the X-rays back, we were really relieved and the way he was moving, we were really encouraged."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.