By Rich Levine

Okay, so Year One's a bust.

We now know that for sure.

In a way, it doesn't come as much of a surprise. I mean, we've been unimpressed by John Lackey for the better part of the last six months.

That's not to say Lackey's been awful. In fact, it's a stretch to even say that he's been bad. But, in his first season with the Sox, it goes without saying that Lackey's been average. He's had a few memorable starts like the near no-hitter in Seattle but he's never allowed us to build any consistent trust or confidence that he'll come through. He's found pockets of success, but never sustained it. He's just sort of rolled along. Not bad. Not great. Just average.

That's OK when you're Scott Atchison. Not when you're on the hook for high eight figures.

But much like last year's Celtics, with Lackey, we never felt comfortable rushing to judgment. Despite all his early-season inconsistency, we always held onto the fact that he was brought here to win in late AugustSeptember (and hopefully October). He was Schilling-lite. It didn't matter what he pitched like over the first few months if Lackey was winning meaningful games at the crucial moments, then all would be forgotten. Ridiculous amount of money well-spent.

Of course, now we can't say that. After last night's plop at the Trop, all we can say is that John Lackey's first season with the Sox is a failure.

There's no more waiting for the right time to evaluate his year, because that was it. That was the moment we'd been holding out for on the road, in prime time and Lackey with the ball and the Sox season in his hand.

That was his shot, and he didn't take it.

The funny thing is, as usual, Lackey didn't even pitch that poorly. He threw five solid innings against a very good line-up, had one rough inning and lost the game. He wasn't bad; he just wasn't good enough.

And he wasn't alone. Where was his offense, you wonder? Wasn't this more than only an important game for Lackey? Wasn't everyone's season on the line? Where's the criticism for David Ortiz and J.D. Drew going a combined 0-for-8? Or Boston's No. 1-5 batters going a combined 3-for-20? Isn't James Shields having a rockier year than Lackey? Why couldn't the Boston bats step up?

Fair questions. No doubt that everyone in the lineup (which only scored a total of nine runs in three games) deserves some heat, but when you bring in a guy for the money that the Sox did John Lackey, it's also fair to assume that when the season's on the line, three runs is enough. It doesn't matter if you're playing the '27 Yankees (which shouldn't be bad now, since they're all dead), a top pitcher in a playoff atmosphere needs that W.

Maybe you're a little more flexible if the guy has a body of work (in a Sox uniform) that you can look back on and stay optimistic, but because Lackey never truly fulfilled our expectations during the season's earlier months, he had everything riding on the home stretch. It wouldn't be enough to just pitch okay. He needed to be great. That was his penance. That's how he'd earn everyone's admiration, and really earn that cool 18 million check.

Well, maybe next year. For now, all Lackey's earned is a Nation full of concerned fans, half hoping that their 82 miilion man will turn it around next yearhalf terrified of where this team will be if he doesn't.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Andrelton Simmons slugs Angels to 7-3 win over Red Sox


Andrelton Simmons slugs Angels to 7-3 win over Red Sox

Andrelton Simmons drove in three runs, including a go-ahead two-run homer, Albert Pujols went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and the Los Angeles Angels rallied for a 7-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.

Simmons hit his 10th homer of the season to left and put the Angels ahead 4-3 in the third inning after falling behind early. Pujols doubled to score Yunel Escobar and Mike Trout to start the four-run outburst.

Pujols became the 26th player to score 1,700 runs when he touched home plate after Simmons went deep. Pujols joins Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez and Willie Mays in amassing at least 600 home runs and 1,700 runs.

JC Ramirez (9-8) recorded his second win at home in 11 starts, striking out six while allowing one earned run and five hits in six innings.

David Price (5-3) gave up five earned runs and seven hits in five innings, allowing more than three earned runs for only the second time this year.

The Red Sox got off to another fast start after scoring five runs in the first inning on Friday. Hanley Ramirez had an RBI single to start the game, and the Red Sox got two runs in the second after the Angels' franchise-record streak of 14 games without an error ended when Ramirez couldn't make the catch to complete a double play while covering first. Mookie Betts hit his 31st double to knock in a run and then was driven in by Andrew Benintendi for a 3-0 lead.

However, the Angels were able to respond after dropping the series opener. They added two runs in the fifth when Simmons singled, again bringing home Pujols, and he scored on a throwing error by shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Trout picked up an RBI in the sixth, giving him five in seven games this home stand.


Red Sox: INF Josh Rutledge (concussion) is likely to come off the disabled list on Monday. . Mitch Moreland was in the starting lineup at DH for the first time this season.

Angels: LHP Tyler Skaggs (strained oblique) pitched four innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Salt Lake, giving up three earned runs and six hits.


Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (4-12, 4.60 ERA) has just one win in his last 10 starts, but it came against the Angels last month. Porcello has allowed two earned runs in 14 innings over his last two starts, striking out 13 without allowing a walk in that span, and still took the loss in both outings.

Angels: RHP Parker Bridwell (3-1, 3.18 ERA) went a career-high 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win against the Red Sox last month. Bridwell has held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in five of his last six starts.


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