Coming into their four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles, the Boston Red Sox knew that they would need to put up a good showing to keep the Orioles from gaining too much ground on them in the AL East. After losing the first two games on Thursday and Friday, Boston answered with a solid win on Saturday with high hopes for their day game on Sunday with Jon Lester on the mound.
Things didn’t work out as smoothly as the Sox would have hoped, though, as Lester was shelled in his start, allowing the O’s to take away a 6-3 victory and close the gap in the division to just 1.5 games.
Lester looked far from the ace of the staff on Sunday against the hard-hitting Orioles, lasting just five innings and gave up five runs on nine hits while throwing 106 pitches. More importantly, Lester never looked like the aggressor with the ball in his hand. He always seemed to be pitching around hitters and the strike zone rather than attacking them.
This marks the sixth start in a row that Lester has looked less than stellar. He’s 0-4 in his last six starts, allowing 28 earned runs on 47 hits and 18 walks. That means that he has an ERA of 7.20 and a WHIP of 1.86 over those starts. Moreover, his overall ERA has risen from 2.72 to 4.37 over those six starts.
Lester has had obvious trouble on the hill as of late and hasn’t seemed confident or willing to attack. There’s no telling whether it’s an injury or just a mental thing that is causing this stretch from him, but it’s absolutely undeniable that there’s a problem.
With Clay Buchholz’s injury concerns going on right now, the Red Sox need Lester to pitch up to his potential. Whatever the problem is, it needs to be addressed and it needs to be done promptly.