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John Lackey went just 4 1/3 innings, giving up eight runs on 11 hits and two walks with three strikeouts and a wild pitch. He threw 105 pitches, 75 for strikes. Despite a six-run lead after three innings, Lackey did not stay in the game long enough to qualify for a win.
With the outing, his ERA went from 6.19 to 6.49, while the ERA of Sox starting pitchers’ in September went from 6.38 to 6.87. It was the 13th time in 19 games this month a Sox starting pitcher has gone just five innings or less.
“I thought he actually had pretty good stuff,” said manager Terry Francona. “I thought he threw a lot of strikes. Had trouble putting hitters away. Pitch count was very high and just got to the point where [it was] hard to leave him in. We needed to stop the runs now. At that point we were up by 11-8 . . . it’s hard to leave him in. And I wanted to because I didn’t want to get into our bullpen that early.”
Contrary to what his manager said, Lackey did not think he had pretty good stuff. After the game, Lackey seemed as frustrated and confused as anyone by his performance.
“I can’t explain it,” Lackey said. “That’s the best I’ve felt warming up in the bullpen all year. I don’t know what the hell happened.
I know I probably should be focusing on the offense, but I can't help but complain just a bit more about John Lackey.
Last night was a good example of one of the most frustrating things about him. In the bottom of the 2nd, the Sox pushed the lead to 6-3 -- a pretty generous offensive helping for that early in the game. How does Lackey respond? He loads the bases and gives up two runs.
Then in the 3rd the Sox bat around, scoring five funs in the process to take a commanding 11-5 lead. How does Lackey respond? He gives up a single, an immediate steal of second, and then a triple to drive in another run.
This seems to happen a lot. Lackey can't seem to build on the run support the Sox give him. I would think it would be incredibly frustrating for the rest of the team that he can't seem to harness any momentum. Of course, this night it didn't end up mattering, but on others it has.
Maybe it's nothing. Or maybe it's just that John Lackey isn't that good, and it has nothing to do with one moment or another.
On page 2, David Ortiz has some thoughts on the starting pitching.
"To be honest with you, the way things are going, he should be starting. It’s as simple as that," Ortiz said. "I think at one point, he might be a starter. It all depends what the front office decides, but he’s got good stuff, and we definitely need a guy that can come in and give us six or seven good innings. He seems like he’s capable to do it, so we’ll see."
Aceves now has 12 relief appearances this season of at least three innings, which leads the majors. He's gone four straight outings without giving up a run, and has lowered his ERA to 2.74.
"Aceves has been doing that time and time again," Sox manager Terry Francona said. "The one inning he got himself into a bind he pitched himself out of it. He’s done a tremendous job. I wish he was available in the second game; knowing Aceves, he’ll want to be."
I don't like when offensive players comment on pitching, or vice versa. It always seems like it's going to come out wrong.
But Ortiz has a point. Aceves has been quite reliable, while many of our starters -- namely Kyle Weiland, Tim Wakefield, Erik Bedard, and Lackey -- have not.
And you may have heard this, but starting pitching is relatively important in the playoffs. Granted, Lester and Beckett (now that he appears to be healthy) appear to be set for games 1 and 2. So maybe Tito's thinking it's better to keep Aceves used to his relief role with just a few regular season games. Assuming we hold onto our playoff spot (definitely not assured), the rotation wouldn't be in terrible shape.
That said, in a regular-season frame of mind, running Weiland and Lackey out there is getting pretty old. Poor John: We get an 18-run win and I spend both pages complaining about Lackey.
CSNNE | Sox use big bats to beat O's in Game 2, 18-9 | Sox happy to earn much-needed win | Red Sox drop Game 1 to Orioles | Ortiz calls for Aceves in the starting role | Weiland can't buck the starting pitching trend | Controversial call proves crucial in Sox loss | Globe | Hitting back | Crawford sits with stiff neck | Pitchers shouldn't win MVP | Framework got them settled | Fans stay confident in crisis | Herald | Sox flush with reality | Split decision | Home run, but no trot | Papi: Aceves deserves starting nod | Randolph all-too familiar with September swoon | ESPNBoston | Sox bats erupt in nightcap | Red Sox back where they started | Rally falls short in opener | Fair is foul: Sox can't catch a break | Ortiz says Aceves should be in rotation | Crawford sits out doubleheader with stiff neck