Anything you have to say about tonight's 8-3 loss against the Rays begins and ends with Jon Lester.
Sure, there were near-fireworks when Rays starter Rofaustoberto Hernancarmonadez, still pitching in the 8th inning with a five-run lead and a high pitch count, drilled Dustin Pedroia. All sides behaved themselves, but it was so obvious that Joe Maddon had ordered retailiation for last night that even Don Orsillo -- a man whose profession is to not voice opinions -- seemed ruffled.
There was Jose Iglesias adding another coat of gold to his Hall of Fame plaque, collecting two hits and playing a sterling third base.
There was Jose de la Torre giving the bullpen a huge breather the night after a 14-inning game, pitching 3 1/3 innings of solid ball and stopping the bleeding.
But it all comes back to Lester. The Sox were in a position to let de la Torre pitch so much because Jon could not throw strikes. Lester walked seven batters over the course of 4 2/3 innings, including four in the 1st. He wasn't just nibbling, though -- he allowed eight hits, and gave up seven of the eight runs Tampa scored. As Lou Merloni tweeted, he's "the most frustrating good pitcher in the game."
We might be entering one of those stretches where we see what the Sox are made of. With Clay Buchholz banged up and Lester in a funk, how can the team respond? The difference between, say, Buchholz and an average no. 2 starter is probably the difference between the Sox being 1st or 4th in the division this year. Lester hasn't been at that level, but he's approximated what we want out of him. If those two guys can't keep it up, will the team slide, or will somebody -- or somebodies -- be there to pick up the slack?
You know, besides Jose Iglesias.