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.
Worried yet?
“No, I feel great,” Lester said. “I honestly do. Probably the best I’ve felt all season. It just comes down to commanding the baseball. Command the baseball is simple, and I didn’t do that.”
The only explanation offered by either Lester, manager John Farrell or pitching coach Juan Nieves is that the big lefty has been unable to repeat his delivery and location with any of his pitches. When things are going well, Lester talks about “standing tall” on the mound and creating a downhill plane for his pitches. Lately, that isn’t happening nearly enough.
Certainly, it didn’t happen in the first inning, when Lester walked four batters, three with two outs, and forced home a run. Each of the seven runs Lester allowed came after two outs, including solo homers by Desmond Jennings and Evan Longoria, and a two-run shot by Matt Joyce.
“It’s amazing because you see his (between-starts) bullpens and his warmups before the game are really good,” Nieves said. “When the game goes on, I think he wants to add that little extra. He almost wants to create it more with his legs instead of staying tall and not letting the mechanics deviate from the attack of the hitter.”