Lackey earned the win, his first since April 28, improving to 2-4, lowering his ERA from 4.05 to 3.31.
“The record doesn’t indicate or reflect how well he’s pitched,” manager John Farrell said. “Now, some of that was self-induced two starts ago. But I think he’s shown better power, better quality of repertoire, than maybe the win-loss and ERA might otherwise indicate. I think most importantly, though, he continues to come out of every start feeling great, physically. His work in between has been consistent, and there’s no reason that type of performance today or in recent starts shouldn’t continue.”
Lackey went six innings, giving up one unearned run on one hit with no walks and five strikeouts, as he threw 50 of his 84 pitches for strikes. When rain delayed the game for three hours in the middle of the seventh inning, Lackey’s day was done.
Many have been surprised by Lackey's strong 2013, but faithful Ted's Army readers know most of our staff was bullish on him headed into the year. The more good starts Lackey strings together, the more it looks like his Red Sox career has progressed thusly:
In 2010 he was pressing at the beginning of the season, whether due to pressure from his contract, being out of shape, acclimating to a new team for the first time in eight years, bad luck, or some combination thereof. He settled down and had a really solid second half -- a 3.97 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 102 innings, but only a 5-6 record over those games, allowing those of us who were disgusted by his first half to cling to our hatred of him.
In 2011, years of being a workhorse caught up with him, and he pitched hurt without admitting it (or without the Red Sox medical staff properly diagnosing it). He was awful all year, somehow pitching 160 innings of 6.41 ERA. The arm injury was finally discovered and treated, leading to the lost 2012.
Now it's 2013, he's had a year of rest and rehab, he's in good shape, and he's looking like the old Lackey.
It's fun to hate on guys -- especially big-money busts, and even more especially guys who appear to be unlikeable off the field -- but it really looks like we might have jumped the gun on Lackey. It might not be him not caring at all, it may just be years of workload combined with pressure and maybe a dusting of bad clubhouse created the monster we saw in 2011.
But hey, what do I know. Maybe he's a jerk and is terrible, and this batch of starts is the anomaly. I hope not, cause this team is really benefiting from this John Lackey, a half game out of first and on an MLB-best five-game winning streak.
On page 2, another good sign for the Sox.