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The Grand Slam: Jon Lester tosses three-hit shutout in second A's start

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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Anybody in Oakland who still wasn't thrilled about the A's trading slugger Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for ace Jon Lester might have changed their mind Thursday night. They got a good look at Lester at his best. So did the Minnesota Twins for that matter. They were the 3-0 losers as Lester tossed a three-hit shutout in front of his new hometown fans.

It was Lester's second victory in two starts since joining the A's at last week's non-waiver trade deadline. He struck out eight, throwing 122 pitches and striking out the final batter. He took a perfect game into the sixth inning. Not too shabby, Mr. Lester.

''We all know what Cespedes did for this organization and how well he's liked,'' Lester said. ''Just coming over here, you don't want to (mess) that up. You want to make the trade look like it had a purpose and it was good.''

The fans are O.Co Coliseum were chanting Lester's name when he came out for the ninth inning, as good of a sign as any that the Oakland crowd had embraced their new ace. With the victory, the A's became the first team in MLB to 70 wins and (spoiler alert!) increased their lead to three games in the AL West over the Los Angeles Angels. You'll see why in just a second.

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Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu was almost the second West Coast hurler to notch a shutout Thursday night. His Dodgers beat the Angels 7-0 to win three out of four in the Freeway Series, but Ryu was pulled after seven innings and 100 pitches. 

Ryu only gave up two hits and held the Angels hitless until the fifth. Meanwhile, Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez each drove in two runs for the Dodgers. Ryu's shutout attempt was helped by the beaut of a catch above by Yasiel Puig in the sixth inning that kept two Angels runs off the board.

All the talk about the Detroit Tigers and their three Cy Youngs didn't make the New York Yankees flinch this week. The Yankees beat the Tigers 1-0 on Thursday, taking their third game in a four-game series against the Tigers. The Yanks had the daunting task of facing Max Scherzer, David Price, Justin Verlander, plus almost-All-Star Rick Porcello, who started Thursday's game. 

Come playoff time, any team would be happy to win three of four from that rotation, and the Yankees did. It was Yankees rookie Shane Greene who looked dominant on the mound Thursday. He pitched eight shutout innings, allowing five hits and striking out five.

The takeaway for the rest of MLB: It doesn't matter how good Detroit's pitching is when it can only score six runs in four games, like it did this week against the Yankees.

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The Tigers' offense getting cold is good news for the Kansas City Royals, their AL Central division foes, who have rattled off a four-game winning streak this week. The Royals got win No. 4 on Thursday, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-2 as Jeremy Guthrie tossed as a complete game. The Royals are just 2 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central again and, at the moment, have a half-game lead for the second AL wild card.

For the rest of Thursday's MLB action, check out our scoreboard.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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