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Jon Lester HAS to be better

By Nick Giuliano

Publication: theday.com

Published July 09. 2013 6:00PM   Updated July 09. 2013 6:18PM

Like the rest of you, I'm pretty surprised at how the Red Sox have been this year.

Heading into the All-Star break next week, Boston is still leading the AL East and has more wins than anyone in baseball.  But as well as the Sox have played, they are only 3 1/2 games up on Tampa Bay with Baltimore and the Yankees right behind.

Clearly, it's going to be a race not only for the AL East division but for the two Wild Card spots, which is exactly why Jon Lester needs to be better.  The "ace" of the team, after a phenomenal 6-0 start, has gone 2-5 with a 6.49 ERA in his last 10 starts.

Believe me, I know every start won't be great and it's a long season but last night was significant. You needed Jon Lester to perform like we saw earlier this season.  Facing an ace like Felix Hernandez is exactly who Lester will be put up against in the playoffs. It's not even the loss but how it came about that was telling where we saw another fifth or sixth-inning Lester implosion.

By the way, the Seattle line-up stinks. According to mlb.com, it's the Mariners "second highest offensive production of the season." Not great. On top of that, the Lester scowl and entitled demeanor made its unwelcome return when he didn't get the calls he thought he should last night.

My friend Marc Bertrand of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston tweeted during the game: @Marc_Bertrand "Walking the 8th and 9th guy in Seattle's lineup is a joke. Stop nibbling and start attacking. And stop with the faces, Jon."  I couldn't agree more.

With Buchholz injured and a bullpen banged up and blowing games, you need your No. 1 starter to be a stopper and again it didn't happen.  Jon Lester has tons of ability and, when he's on, he's one of the best lefty pitchers in baseball. Consistency has been the problem and if the Red Sox are going to continue on this path toward a playoff spot, they need Jon Lester to turn things around.

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