David Ross picked a timely way to get his first hit in spring training. Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Lackey, Sox Bend But Don’t Break. Beat Rays 6-2.


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.

In the top of the fourth, Lackey got a big lift from David Ross. Ross got his first hit of spring training, a three run bomb off the Rays’ Matt Moore to put Boston up 3-2.

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.

Jon Lester takes the bump for Monday’s 1:05 p.m. game against the Marlins. Will Middlebrooks, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jonny Gomes are expected to be in the starting lineup.

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Tags: Boston Red Sox