Credit Jon Lester for at least one thing on Sunday afternoon.
After an absolutely horrendous start against the Toronto Blue Jays in which the left-hander yielded 11 earned runs over four innings of work — including four home runs — he took his medicine after the game.
Unlike his teammate Josh Beckett, who routinely skips postgame interview sessions, Lester not only talked to the media after his awful day, but he talked a lot. Lester stood at his locker for about five minutes after the Red Sox 15-7 loss and answered question after question about, essentially, why he isn't very good right now. He answered every question thoughtfully and calmly, giving far more of himself than anyone would ever have expected.
But, as great a display of character as his interview session was, what about Lester's lack of results on the hill lately? As many questions as Lester answered late Sunday afternoon, he really had no answers of substance to offer. For those, the lefty is still searching.
"I want him to get better," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine in his postgame interview. "He's a great pitcher, a great guy and I feel this as much as he does. I know he's taking it tough."
The problem, of course, isn't that Lester doesn't care. Who knows, maybe he cares too much and his struggles are as much mental as they are physical. But the bottom line is that the results are not there, and the supposed leaders of the Red Sox rotation are dragging the team down at this point.
It isn't even that Lester and Beckett just haven't been themselves. With the Red Sox' league-leading offense, if the duo were even turning in league-average performances, the team could probably survive. The problem isn't that Lester and Beckett haven't been good, but that they've been downright awful.
The bottom three-fifths of the Red Sox rotation has probably given about as much as could be expected. Felix Doubront has been mostly solid all year, Clay Buchholz has shown flashes of brilliance after some early season struggles, and the revolving door fifth spot — mostly filled by Aaron Cook and Franklin Morales of late — has seen solid contributions.
So, as difficult as it is to lay blame upon two of the team's championship horses, much of the Red Sox' problems come down to the concurrent struggles of Lester and Beckett.
After Sunday's session with the media, we know Lester is a man of character who won't stop searching for answers. At this point, however, it's becoming a legitimate question whether he can find them in time to help the Red Sox in 2012.
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