Another day, another strong outing by Lackey

Another day, another strong outing by Lackey
June 18, 2014, 7:00 pm
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BOSTON - John Lackey pitched the nine-inning shutout . . . but didn't factor into the decision.

Life is so unfair sometimes.

The Red Sox offense was on life support for 9 innings before a jolt in the 10th - an inning after Lackey had left the game - got them back-to-back homers from David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, earning them a 2-1 win.

But make no mistake about it, Lackey was the entire Red Sox team for the first nine innings. He allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out nine Twins.

And just one, Chris Parmelee, reached second base on Lackey due to a wild pitch.

Lackey finished with 105 pitches, 74 for strikes.

No, he didn't get the win - but the team did, and that's all that really matters in the end.

"It worked out great, it really did," Lackey said. "I did my job. You gotta give their kid [Kyle Gibson] a lot of credit. He's a talent. He threw the ball tremendous. For our two big guys to hit a couple dingers late like that, hopefully it'll give us some momentum heading to the road trip."

Lackey became the first Sox pitcher to throw 9.0 scoreless innings without earning a win since Matt Young did it in a 13-inning 1-0 Sox loss on April 15, 1991 against the Indians.

But while he's probably a little surprised that his pitching line doesn't have a "W" next to it, he knew going in that it would be a low-scoring affair.

"The whole series had kind of been like that," Lackey said. "I knew their kid coming in was throwing the ball really well, so I knew it was going to be a challenge for our offense. He threw great again today. I was able to keep us in it long enough, and our boys came through in the end."

So just how low scoring was this series for Boston? Historically low, considering the Sox won all three games. According to Elias this was the first time the Sox have ever swept a series of three or more games by scoring a total of five runs or fewer. They won the first game, 1-0 and the second game, 2-1.

But Boston had the right guy on the hill if the offense was going to disappear. Lackey has been the team's best and most consistent starter this season. Wednesday was his team-leading 12th quality start. He's posted a 1.60 ERA over his last six starts and has not allowed a run in three of those six outings.

In other words, today was Lackey being Lackey.

"I think that's what we've been accustomed to seeing here and that's not take him for granted by any means," John Farrell said, "but he was powerful from the first pitch of the game through the 105th one he threw. One walk allowed, which kind of been, with the exception of the two walks in the Cleveland start, he's been so good with commanding the baseball and high percentage of strikes. He was able to throw his breaking ball behind the count to slow some hitters down, but he's been outstanding for us all year."

Who knows how the game would have played out had Lackey gone back in for the 10th. At 105 pitches, it would have been a stretch - but certainly not out of the realm of possibilities. Farrell had thought Lackey might push the matter after the first two outs in the 9th, but ultimately Farrell decided that at 105 pitches it was time to shut it down.

But what if it was Lackey's choice?

"I don't ask out of anything," Lackey said. "If you want to leave me in, I'll stay."

With the way Lackey's been pitching this season, the longer he stays, the better.