Lackey once again lacks run support in loss

Lackey once again lacks run support in loss
August 6, 2013, 1:30 am
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John Lackey and the Red Sox will try to nab a win in the final game of their four-game series with the Royals.

(USA Today Sports Images)

HOUSTON – John Lackey was the tough-luck loser in the Red Sox 2-0 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park Monday night. Tweaking the specifics – team, score, venue -- that sentence could be written about Lackey several times this season.
 
The right-hander fell to 7-9 with a 3.21 ERA. He went six innings, plus two batters in the seventh, giving up two runs on eight hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts, two shy of his season high.
 
Lackey entered this game with a run support lower than every Sox starter except for Brandon Workman and Jake Peavy, who have four combined starts between them. With the Sox offense getting shut out by Brett Oberholtzer, Lackey’s support fell to 4.07 in his 20 starts.
 
“I thought John threw a great game,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “Kept us in there the whole game. We just didn’t score any runs for him.”
 
As has been the case on several occasions this season. Lackey has allowed two or fewer runs in 12 of his 20 starts, posting 14 quality starts. But of the eight times the Sox have been shut out this season, four have been with Lackey starting, including three of his last six outings.
 
That doesn’t leave much margin for error.
 
Houston got a run in the fifth when L.J. Hoes singled with one out and stole second base. After Jonathan Villar walked, Robbie Grossman’s single to right field scored Hoes.
 
In the seventh, the Astros added another run off Lackey. Hoes led off with a double, taking third on Villar’s bunt base hit. That ended Lackey’s outing, with Junichi Tazawa entering. After striking out Grossman, Tazawa allowed a sacrifice bunt to Brandon Barnes, scoring Hoes, putting the Astros up, 2-0.
 
“I thought John had very good stuff, good secondary stuff,” said manager John Farrell. “Got some key strikeouts when he needed to. And on the other hand [Astros starter Brett] Oberholtzer threw the ball over the plate. He’s a guy that’s proven in a short period of time that he’ll throw strikes. And the opportunities that we did have, which were not too often, he was able to get a key strikeout in a couple of spots.”
 
Lackey rolled his left ankle coming off the mound to field Matt Dominguez’s grounder to end the second inning. Initially, it looked serious enough that the right-hander would have to leave the game.
 
“In the moment, he rolled the ankle and obviously when a guy goes down trying to make a play, you‘ve got immediate concern,” Farrell said. “He came in felt like he was still continuing to go. We continued to monitor closely every pitch that he threw and every inning that he went through. He was able to tape his left ankle and get thru it ok.”
 
Lackey said the ankle didn’t affect his pitching. But, it’s that kind of toughness that his teammate appreciate.
 
“When he first kind of rolled it I knew it was going to be painful,” Saltalamacchia said. “It didn’t look good. But he’s a competitor. He’s not coming out of that game. He did a great job staying in there. Like I said, he battled and kept us in that game.
 
“I think he taped it up pretty quick to make sure it didn’t get swollen too bad. He wasn’t coming out of that game, regardless. It was going to take lot more than that.”
 
“There’s no question that he pitches with a lot of heart, tremendous competitor, never wants to come out of a game,” Farrell said. “And tonight was another example of that. Unfortunately as it turns out, he pitches on a day in which we come out on the short end.”
 
As has been the case often this season.
 
“It’s all about winning the game more than anything,” Lackey said. “That's more important than anything . . . I can only control the way I pitch. Got to go out there and compete in five days and try to give us another chance to win.
 
“It was frustrating. Just got to keep working at it, try to do it again next time, hopefully things work out better.”