Lackey continues on his comeback season

Lackey continues on his comeback season
July 8, 2013, 12:30 am
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Over the course of his 11-year career, John Lackey has won 134 games, been a Game 1 starter in post-season series, led the American League in ERA one season and won a Game 7 World Series start as a rookie.
      
But, improbably, at 34 and 20 months removed from Tommy John surgery, Lackey finds himself at the top of his game.
      
"John's pitching as well as any point and time in his career," said John Farrell Sunday night. "That's not to shortchange anything he's done early on, but he's in a very good place right now."
      
"Probably," agreed Lackey. "This is probably the best first half (of a season) I've had."
      
On Sunday night, that didn't translate into much for Lackey or the Red Sox. Lackey limited his former team to just two runs over seven innings, allowing but five hits while fanning nine and walking one.
      
Good as that was, it wasn't good enough to beat his good friend, Jered Weaver. Weaver blanked the Sox over 6 2/3 innings, and three relievers from his bullpen finished the shutout in a 3-0 win for the Los Angeles Angels.
      
Still, that took nothing away from Lackey's night. By his admission he made one mistake - a pitch to Hank Conger, who drove it out to right for one of the two solo homers Lackey allowed.
      
The other, in the second inning, was a 96 mph that sophomore sensation Mike Trout somehow hit out to right.
      
"A pretty good hitter made a pretty good swing," Lackey said of the home run.

But overall, Lackey was happy with the outing.
      
"Felt pretty good about it," said Lackey. "One of the those deals where Weave pitched really good. It's tough."
     
The Red Sox had been shutout just once in their previous 59 games. Sunday's night whitewash came at a bad time for Lackey, who deserved better.
     
Lackey's record sits at 6-6, but that's hardly a reflection of how well he's pitched. His 2.80 ERA is far more indicative of his excellence.
     
"Some things are a little frustrating," said Lackey in an apparent reference to his often poor run support. "But that's how it is. We've got a lot of guys who can hit; it just didn't happen today. You've got to give Weave a lot of credit."
     
Even more encouraging for Lackey was his ability to throw 115 pitches, his highest pitch count post-surgery. In his last five outings, Lackey has thrown 98 pitches or more, and in that span, hasn't given up more than two runs in any one outing.
     
On Sunday night, he issued just one walk, making it just three walks in his last five starts. Beyond the homers, the Angels threatened just once more -- in the sixth when a two-out single by Albert Pujols and a walk to Josh Hamilton put runners on the corners.
     
But facing the dangerous Howie Kendrick, who homered in each of the first two games of the series, Lackey got the infielder on a harmless groundout to the left side.
     
"I don't know if I've ever seen John Lackey have better stuff," echoed Angels manager Mike Scioscia who managed Lackey for seven seasons in Anaheim. "He really threw the ball well, and Jered matched him pitch for pitch."

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