BOSTON, MA: Jon Lester #31 of the Boston Red Sox walks to the dugout after being pulled by manager Bobby Valentine #25 in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Three days ago we were feeling pretty decent. 5-2 out of the break, Cody Ross killing it, players like Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury showing signs of life, and Clay Buchholz doing his best to give the Sox the front-of-the-rotation production they needed so desperately in the rotation.
Like so often before, however, the Sox have responded to a positive run by going completely invisible. It's a routine that's become so familiar by this point--right back to .500 time-and-again--that I'm surprised to be surprised.
Amazingly, the good spots actually manage to outnumber the bad ones. Adrian Gonzalez homered, Jacoby Ellsbury homered, Junichi Tazawa was good...
But oh, that bad point is just so very bad. It's a bad point that keeps coming back and now seems to have begun to fester, reaching new lows. That bad point is Jon Lester.
The first pitch was a homer, and the Jays were off to the races. Five runs were in before the inning was over, and after the Sox had gotten back within two on Gonzalez' homer, four more runs quickly followed in the top of the second with two more bombs for Toronto. When Lester gave up two more in the top of the fifth to outdo the one run the Sox had gotten back in the bottom of the fourth it was almost humorous.
All-in-all, Lester gave up four homers on nine hits, five walks, and four homers. He isn't even a shadow of his old self at this point.
Not even 48 hours ago I said this about the Red Sox' then-upcoming three-game set against the Jays:
We're headed into a series that has to be about insurance right now. Three games against the Jays are a lot easier than a bunch against the Yankees and Rangers. Win this one and those become a matter of avoiding decimation. Lose these ones and the Sox have to make up ground against the best. They're off to a good start, but that doesn't mean they can relax.
Now they've not simply lost, but been swept. They are back to .500 for the hundredth time on the year, and in sorry shape heading into the two toughest series they will face all year.
If the Sox do manage to put themselves in a position record-wise where it's justifiable to buy instead of sell, they will have proven themselves in style against the best teams in the game.
And you know what? I still won't let myself believe. Because no matter how good the Sox look for any given series of games, it seems like they'll manage to find the losses, the offensive droughts, the terrible pitching to bring themselves back to .500. They have taken their opportunity to rid themselves of that reputation and thrown it away.
In one week, .500 might look pretty damn good.