05/20/08 1:00 AM ET
No-hitter a record fourth for Varitek
Red Sox catcher enters history books with Lester in Boston
By Mike Petraglia / Special to MLB.com
"This was a weird one," Varitek said. "I didn't really know he had a no-hitter until the eighth. I looked up in the seventh and saw that he was around 100 pitches and he did his job. I glanced in the bullpen and saw nobody warming up and thought that was weird."
Entering Monday's contest, Varitek and 12 other big league catchers had the distinction of catching three no-hitters in their careers.
The moment Kansas City's Alberto Callaspo swung and missed at Lester's 130th pitch, Varitek stood all alone in the history books.
"The fact that he's caught four in his career, the only catcher to ever do that, that's a team effort," Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell said. "Jason has a huge impact on what goes on. Certainly, Jon threw every pitch, but Jason's guidance certainly got him to that point."
Ever since he assumed the Red Sox's full-time catching duties in 1999, Varitek has commanded the respect and admiration of every pitcher from Pedro Martinez to Curt Schilling to Josh Beckett.
And before Monday night, he caught no-hitters from Hideo Nomo in 2001, Derek Lowe in '02 and Clay Buchholz last Sept. 1.
"It also says he's caught some very good pitchers," Farrell said. "I think the most important thing is that I think every pitcher that walks to the mound has the utmost confidence in what he calls, and we're fortunate to have him here."
But ask Varitek about the job Lester did to come back from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and he'll tell you catching this no-hitter may have meant more than any other.
"I'm very fortunate," Varitek said. "It's so exciting to be part of one as a catcher. Each one's so different. The work that Jonny Lester's had to do -- to be able to be part of something like that with him is totally different. Each one has been totally different, but Jonny keeps working to become more complete, and he's working his way to becoming that way."
|Jason Varitek caught his Major League-leading fourth no-hitter on Monday. The Red Sox catcher was also behind the dish for no-no's tossed by Hideo Nomo (April 4, 2001), Derek Lowe (April 27, 2002) and Clay Buchholz (Sept. 1, 2007).|
Varitek, as he always does, did his best work as the game moved along, helping Lester overcome a bullpen session beforehand that left the southpaw feeling less than confident about his stuff.
But calling a game that featured Lester's curve and high fastballs mixed in with a steady stream of the lefty's signature cut-fastball, Varitek helped his pitcher find a rhythm as the game unfolded.
"[Lester is] someone who's got what I would consider a photographic memory, and ... he retains the information that goes on inside a game and how he's attacked the same hitters -- first, second, third and fourth time through the lineup," Farrell said.
It was somewhat ironic when Callaspo, batting for the first time since entering the game as a replacement for American League batting leader Mark Grudzielanek, swung and missed at a four-seam fastball clocked at 94 mph for the final out.
Varitek simply pumped his fist in the air and rushed out to congratulate his pitcher after not allowing a hit, something the Red Sox's captain has done that more than any catcher in Major League history.
Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.