Jon Lester’s Importance Now Greater Than Ever as Red Sox on Verge of Implosion

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Jon Lester's Importance Now Greater Than Ever as Red Sox on Verge of ImplosionEditor's note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine’s words. Each game day, we will select the best Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox have had their struggles as of late. Alright, that might be the understatement on the year, but seriously something needs to change.

Jon Lester can relate to the team's recent misery, as he's been a big reason behind the slide. His numbers have been dismal, and while his performances on the mound have been promising at times the result doesn't seem to coincide. But on Saturday, Boston's numerical ace takes the hill in search of providing some stability to his team.

It hasn't been the most enjoyable season for Lester, as the 28-year-old has been mired in mediocrity for much of it and just can't seem to get out of his own way. But even though his ERA has blossomed to un unbearable 5.46, Lester has the golden opportunity to atone for all his sins on Saturday.

Lester will take the mound in a matinee at Yankee Stadium with arguably the season on the line. The Red Sox are now two games under .500, for the first time since June 12, and could well be en route to an all-out fire sale if they don't pull out the next two in New York.

That's where Lester comes in. The left-hander is supposed to be the leader of Boston's staff. He's supposed to be the pitcher to lean on, and the guy that can step up in the big moment. So as Lester takes the mound opposite CC Sabathia on Saturday, he'll be tasked with salvaging the Red Sox from an oncoming implosion.

Jon Lester's Importance Now Greater Than Ever as Red Sox on Verge of ImplosionBobby Valentine is certainly concerned, looking more flustered as ever after Boston's 10-3 shellacking in New York on Friday night, but the confident manager is remaining poised in the face of such a daunting challenge.

"I'm a lucky guy," Valentine said of managing the Red Sox. "When I wake up in the morning, I count my blessings. Hell's bells, this has been exciting. Challenging for sure."

Challenging, yeah I buy that. There has been such a sense of underachievement with this uber-talented roster, and the unbelievable peaks and valleys they have faced only cause more concern. But Jon Lester can help to alleviate that pain and suffering on Saturday.

It may not be the biggest game of the season or even the most exciting, but it certainly holds the most weight pertaining to the Red Sox season.  A win keeps this team alive and may reinvigorate them, much like Jason Varitek's fight with Alex Rodriguez spurred them back in 2004. But this time around, it's not the catcher but the pitcher who is tasked with such an important duty.

This is the do-or-die scenario that every organization hopes to avoid. But while the disappointment of a defeat would likely be the nail in the coffin, just the same a hard-fought victory could well be the motivating moment needed to make a run at the postseason.

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