Sunday afternoon against Tampa Bay was another step in John Lackey‘s bend but not break pitching journey as well as a testament to Boston’s middle relief and closing pitching. A fit and trim Lackey looks different this spring and his pitching thus far has reflected a new attitude that is matching the positive physical effects felt by his surgically repaired elbow.
After going six up and six down through two innings Lackey gave up three singles and a sac fly in the third to go down 2-0 but that was as far as Tampa got. In the previous two years the proceedings of the inning might have set the stage for an avalanche of runs, usually ending with Lackey looking like he’d swallowed a mouse and giving the ball to a disappointed manager. Just as he did in his first appearance this spring in which he loaded the bases in the first inning and wriggled off the hook after giving up just one run, Lackey stiffened, inducing Matt Joyce to weakly fly out to Daniel Nava in left field to end the inning.
After 3 2/3 innings Lackey was lifted as the game settled into a pitching duel. A stout Boston quintet of Clayton Mortensen, Koji Uehara, Daniel Bard, Junichi Tazawa and StevenWright Wright tossed 5 1/3 one hit shutout ball. Tampa Bay didn’t have the same luck.
32-year old Rays rookie, which says something in and of itself, Juan Sandoval endured a house of horrors seventh inning in which he walked three, gave up three hits and three runs as Boston broke it open for good 6-2. With the win Lackey moved to 2-0 this spring as the Red Sox improved to 8-8.
NOTE: Got a Baseball Question? “Just Ask Earl”
Just Ask Earl is a new feature that Bosox Injection is pleased to present. Esteemed BSI Senior Writer and certified baseball junkie Earl Nash will answer your questions related to baseball: rating prospects, fantasy trade advice, baseball cards, history, pitching techniques, strategy, rules, Red Sox issues, HOF candidates, MLB policies–you name it. If you can think it up, Earl will answer your questions.
Send your questions to [email protected] and Earl will publish the questions and answers on the Bosox Injection site, ensuring that you get your 15 minutes of fame.