Photos posted on Twitter by a St. Louis Cardinal minor leaguer showed a mucous-colored substance on Lester's glove. A video appeared to show Lester going to specific parts of the glove with his left fore and middle fingers, which he would then use to grip the ball.
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MLB rules prohibit pitchers from doctoring the baseball with a foreign substance other than rosin. Pitchers have been known, however, to add tackiness to the ball with dabs of pine tar or other remedies, often hidden on or in their gloves, particularly in extremely cold or hot weather. The first-pitch temperature Wednesday night was 50 degrees.
"I guess it's a compliment," Lester said before Game 2. "I know what I do day in and day out to pitch in big-league games. Not once have I cheated. I won't cheat. I'll continue to hold that as to who I am.
"The picture does look bad. But it's rosin."
Lester threw 7 2/3 shutout innings against the Cardinals on Wednesday night. The Red Sox beat the Cardinals 8-1. By Thursday morning, given the photos and rampant speculation about what the substance could be, Lester's glove was all over the Internet.
Though the firestorm was lit by one of their own minor-league players, the Cardinals quickly dismissed the accusations.
"If that's what he claims then that's what it is," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Thursday. "That's all there is to it. And right now it's pretty much a dead issue. We move on with the fact the league now has to take notice."
MLB issued a statement Thursday morning: "We cannot draw any conclusions from this video. There were no complaints from the Cardinals and the umpires never detected anything indicating a foreign substance throughout the game."
In Lester's defense, Red Sox manager John Farrell said, "He sweats like a pig. And he needs rosin. And you know what, he keeps it in his glove. … The one thing that seemed very odd is that it shows up in a lime green color. I don't know how that could happen."
Lester offered no explanation for the color of the substance. Rosin is white.
"I don't know what that is," he said. "It looks like a giant booger. I don't know how that came about, with the lighting."
In a bounce-back season for him and the Red Sox, Lester was 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 33 starts. In four postseason starts, he is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA. He was dominant in Game 1 of the World Series.
Former Red Sox great Pedro Martinez said he doubted Lester was doctoring the ball illegally.
"I don't think there's that much of a difference you can make on the ball," Martinez said. "I don't think he was doing anything either. I think he was just overpowering."
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