John Lackey continued his impressive return from Tommy John surgery yesterday and Shane Victorino broke it open with a bases clearing triple during a five-run Boston seventh as the Red Sox eventually cruised to a 6-1 win over the Phillies at JetBlue Park in Fort Meyers, FL.
Lackey gave up just one run and four hits over five solid innings of work. He kept the ball on the ground and didn’t walk a batter, an especially good sign when a guy is coming back from Tommy John surgery, since control is generally that last skill to get dialed back in. A quintet of Red Sox relievers shut out the Phillies the rest of the way. Andrew Bailey got the win for the Red Sox.
“I felt good with the ball being on the ground a lot,” Lackey told mlb.com’s Ian Browne after the game. “It was a good sign for me. I’m still throwing a majority fastballs, trying to build my arm strength up. It was nice.”
When driving a car the old adage “speed kills” is true. When throwing a baseball “walks kill” is also true. The trouble started with two outs after Stutes got Will Middlebrooks to fly out and Jonny Gomes to pop out. He walked Jarrod Saltalamacchia, tossed a wild pitch to advance Salty to second (who was replaced by pinch runner Matty Johnson) and then walked Daniel Nava. Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Johnson and advanced Nava to third. You could feel the train coming ’round the track when Stutes walked Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases.
Victorino’s hit wasn’t a cheap one. He got a middle in fastball and hit it on the screws. The ball was smoked to right fielder Pete Orr who initially misjudged the ball. It sailed over his head and rolled to the wall while Victorino showed Red Sox Nation that he still has wheels.
The pitching held strong, the defense was solid and Boston took advantage of the opportunities presented to them. You can’t ask for much more than that. The win moves Boston to 14-12 in Grapefruit League play this spring.