Lackey hopes to keep Sox rolling in Game 3

Lackey hopes to keep Sox rolling in Game 3
October 14, 2013, 8:30 pm
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DETROIT – The old cliché is:  Momentum is as good as the next day’s starting pitcher.
 
John Lackey, step right up.
 
The Red Sox only momentum in the first 16 innings of Games 1 and 2 resembled a runaway train going downhill. That is, until the Sox finally broke through on a quintet of Tigers relievers for an improbable come-from-way-behind walk-off win in Game 2.
 
Now, it is Lackey’s job as the starting pitcher in Game 3 to sustain that momentum.
 
“It was a lot of fun [Sunday] night,” Lackey said Monday afternoon at Comerica Park. “It was great. Guys kept fighting to the end. To win that game was huge for us, obviously. Coming over here down two games would have been tough.”
 
Lackey is no stranger to the postseason. Before this season, he had made 14 postseason starts, winning the World Series with the Angels in 2002. But, after signing with the Sox as a free agent before the 2010 season, he is getting back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. That year he and the Angels knocked the Red Sox out of the playoffs, sweeping them in the ALDS. He has made one postseason start already this season, beating the Rays in Game 2 of the ALDS at Fenway Park.
 
In five postseason appearances as a rookie in 2002, Lackey was 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA. He was the winning pitcher in Game 7 of the World Series. He hasn’t been back since.
 
“I obviously have a lot of memories about it” Lackey said. “It was fun. I was just kind of a young guy trying to help out a group of veterans that year, staying out of the way, being quiet and doing my job. I've done it a few more times since then and been a little bit more involved as someone on the team more as the leader of the pitching staff, that sort of thing.”
 
He’s had some experience – being on the wrong side – when a play-off  game ended in walk-off fashion.
 
“I've been a part of some walk-offs on the other side,” Lackey said. “Manny [Ramirez] walked us off in Fenway one time when I was with the Angels to end the series. I don't know,  that was a pretty big one [Sunday] night. It was fun to be on that side of it, for sure.”
 
With a lineup as formidable as the Tigers’, Lackey will have a challenge on Tuesday.
 
“They're good,” he said. “It's a deep lineup. One through nine you've got to make pitches. They wouldn't be playing at this point in the season if they're not pretty good. All of them have some power and it's going to be a tough challenge, for sure.”
 
Especially Miguel Cabrera. In 13 career plate appearances against Lackey, Cabrera is batting .333, going 4-for-12 with a double, a home run, two RBI, a walk, and three strikeouts –relatively pedestrian by Cabrera’s standards.
 
Asked how he intends to get Cabrera out, Lackey, laughing, replied:
 
“I'd be kind of dumb to tell you how I'm going to do that right now, I think.
 
“He's like David [Ortiz]. There's not one way I can go about it. I'm going to have to make a lot of good pitches in a lot of different spots. He's really good.”
 
Lackey’s challenge in Game 3 will be twofold. In addition to the Tigers’ impressive lineup, he will be opposed by their ace, Justin Verlander.
 
“Obviously, yeah, he's a great pitcher,” Lackey said. “But you pitch this time of the year, you're not going to go against anybody that's not pretty good.

“We've got a great lineup. I'm going into the game with a great group of guys behind me. Those guys are going to fight him. He's kind of our lineup's problems. I've got my own problems with their lineup.”