Jon Lester took the mound in a different uniform and, for the first time in his major league career, felt just slightly out of place.
Quickly enough, he put aside the newness of pitching for Oakland — and the expectations that he’ll help lead baseball’s winningest team on a deep run in October.
Lester, a Tacoma native who attended Bellarmine Prep, worked into the seventh inning to win his Athletics debut and Jonny Gomes produced two timely hits during an eight-run burst in his Bay Area return for an 8-3 victory against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday.
Two days after being traded from the sagging World Series champion Boston Red Sox, Lester and Gomes teamed up on a nice win out West.
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“After warming up it felt a little more normal, getting back to the pitching performance and worrying about that and not worrying about living situations or moving or anything like that,” Lester said. “It was a little different at first.”
Lester’s parents flew down from the Seattle area for his start.
The 6-foot-4 lefty instantly became an imposing presence in the pitcher-friendly Coliseum. Fans in the crowd of 30,097 cheered as he went through his warmup routine in left field, then Lester (11-7) tipped his cap to a roaring ovation when he left after 62/3 innings and 104 pitches.
“To walk off to the ovation was great,” Lester said. “It kind of makes you feel welcome.”
Lester gave up three runs and nine hits, striking out three and walking one.
Manager Bob Melvin joked about being scared to take him out.
“I said, ‘Nice going, big fella.’ He is a big fella,” Melvin said.