Jon Lester says he wants to pitch every game as if it’s his last.
Jon Lester, who pitches Sunday in the series finale against the Mariners, has been through the final weeks of a pennant race with the Red Sox more than many of his A’s teammates have.
And he says his start in a must-win game for the A’s against the Mariners in Safeco Field will reflect that level of experience.
Simply put, he approaches the game “as if will be the last game I’ll ever pitch.’’
It’s not that Lester wants to be buried in pennant race pressure. It’s that the 31-year-old lefty wants to eliminate the pressure by making himself as prepared as possible for the start.
That includes his physical work the last few days on the sidelines and the mental work of studying the charts and the video of the Mariners so that he can go into the start assured that he’s done everything he can to be ready.
“I don’t like to add more pressure than is already there,’’ he said Saturday afternoon. “And it’s a little different for me. I only get out there once every five days. I would have loved to be a player and be out there every day, but I didn’t have to the talent for that. So I go out and do what I can.
“It helps that I’m pitching for a team like this that is doing what it can to win every day. The results aren’t always what you like; they haven’t been for the last few weeks. But I go out there knowing that the (team’s) effort is always going to be there.’’
Lester said as bad as things have been with the A’s having lost 22 of the last 31 games, one way to measure the team’s effort is that “we’re in almost every game we’ve played.’’
“I can’t remember the last time we played a game where we didn’t have a chance to win at the end,’’ he said. “Like last night, we had the tying run on first base with no one out against one of the best closers in the game (Fernando Rodney). He got us, but not before we worked him hard, really made him struggle.
“It was another case of being one at-bat or one inning pitched away. There have been a lot of those, but as long as we’re right there, we’re doing what we can and now we just need to get that one hit or make that one pitch.’’