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In offering up the customary post-start self-evaluation here last night, Jon Lester didn’t mince words.
“Just terrible,” he said before adding, “unacceptable” and finally, “horse-(expletive).”
And here’s the worst part: It wasn’t limited to only last night
It would have been easier for the Red Sox to swallow Lester’s 42⁄3-inning, seven-walk flop in an 8-3 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field if it was an isolated instance. But it was only the latest dud in a five-start slump in which he has gone 0-3 with a 6.90 ERA and allowed 58 baserunners in 30 innings after opening the season 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA.
The Sox desperately needed Lester to go deep into the game to save the bullpen and he came up well short. He couldn't get out of any jam early, throwing 70 pitches in the first three innings alone and couldn't get out of the fifth, giving the ball to a battered bullpen. Thankfully, Jose De La Torre came out of nowhere to throw 3 1/3 innings to finish the game but it shouldn't have come to that.
Lester never looked good from jump, walking four guys in the first, including one with the bases loaded, which the Sox have done five times in the past games. When he was finally able to throw strikes, he caught too much of the plate and the Rays took full advantage smacking three home runs.
The question is now whether or not Lester is just having a bad stretch or is the lefty regressing back to the pitcher we've seen in the past couple of seasons? The stats haven't been pretty over the past five starts: 46 hits, 18 walks and 23 earned runs in 30 innings. It's not a health issue as Lester said after the game he's felt as good as he has all season.
Which means Lester is just not executing his pitches which is all the more worrisome. Hopefully it's just a bad stretch and it's something he just has to ride out. For the sake of the Sox and the hope of staying atop the AL East, it needs to be sooner than later.
Rest of the Links: Globe: Lester lets Sox down | Sox lose to Rays | Maddon still thinks HBP was intentional | Herald: Bailey believes in own abilties | Gomes, mates not sidetracked by scrap | Jose De La Torre manages to provide some relief | CSNNE: Lester no match for Rays | De La Torre saves bullpen | Buchholz could start Sunday | WEEI: Sound the alarm? | Lester: "I did a terrible job... It's unacceptable" |