Game Story: Lackey helps Sox blank O's, 4-0

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Game Story: Lackey helps Sox blank O's, 4-0

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Right-hander John Lackey walked off the field at Fenway Park in the seventh inning Saturday night to a much different reaction from the home crowd than in his previous outing. When he left in the third inning Monday, Lackey was given a robust round of boos on his way to the clubhouse. But, walking off the field after 6 23 innings Saturday against the Orioles, Lackey was treated to a standing ovation, appropriate recognition of his nights work.

The Red Sox beat the Orioles, 4-0, their third straight win over Baltimore and fifth straight, and ninth of 10 overall.

Lackey held the Os scoreless, allowing just three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts, two wild pitches, and two hit batters. He goes into the All-Star break improving his record to 5-8, with a 6.84 ERA.

The Sox did the bulk of their scoring in the fifth inning, sending eight batters to the plate. The Sox did all their damage with two outs, and RBI hits from Kevin Youkilis, a single, and Josh Reddick (double) after intentional walks were issued to Adrian Gonzalez and Davit Ortiz. Reddicks two-run double ended the night for Os starter, right-hander Alfredo Simon.

Simon took the loss, falling to 1-2. He went 4 23 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits and three walks (two intentional) with one strikeout and a balk.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: John Lackey
Lackey rebounded from arguably his worst start with the Sox, on the 4th of July, to one of his better ones this season. He went 6 23 scoreless innings, allowing just three this and a walk with seven strikeouts. He also threw two wild pitches and hit two batters. Lackey goes into the All-Star break improving his record to 6-8, lowering his ERA to 6.84.

He threw 106 pitches, 69 for strikes, well above the desired 60 percent mark. It was his first win since Jun 17 against the Brewers. It was his fifth quality start in 14 outings this season. But against the Orioles, he has quality starts in each of his last 15 outings against them, throwing at least 6 23 innings each time. Since Aug. 30, 2005, while with the Angels, he is 9-3 with a 2.41 ERA against the Orioles.
HONORABLE MENTION: Kevin Youkilis
Youkilis went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI, and a run scored. He drove in the Sox first run with a double to left in the fifth. His first-inning single to center extended his on-base streak to 21 games, going back to June 15. In that stretch he is hitting .347, going 26-for-75 with eight doubles, three home runs, 19 RBI, 10 walks, and getting hit by pitches twice. In that stretch he has raised his average from .259 to .282. This was his eighth game with multiple extra-base hits this season, and second on the homestand.

THE GOAT: Alfredo Simon
Despite having runners on base in every inning, Simon was able to keep the Sox off the scoreboard through the first four innings. But, that is a dangerous way to pitch and it caught up to him in the fifth, when the Sox scored three runs and drove Simon from the game.

He falls to 1-2 with a 4.85 ERA.

THE TURNING POINT
The Sox narrowly missed batting around in the fifth inning (they already lead the majors in that category, batting around 18 times this season). Instead, they sent eight batters to the plate, with three scoring. All the runs scored with two outs, and all the runs were driven in on hits after the previous batter was given an intentional walk.

With two outs and Dustin Pedroia on second base after a fielders choice cut down Jacoby Ellsbury (triple) trying to score, Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked. Kevin Youkilis then doubled to left, scoring Pedroia. With first base open, David Ortiz was also intentionally walked. Josh Reddick followed that with two-run double, ending Simons outing.
STAT OF THE DAY: 65 percent
John Lackey threw 106 pitches, 69 for strikes, a 65 percent strike ratio. In his last start, he threw 98 pitches, 56 strikes, a 57 percent ratio.

QUOTE OF NOTE
If they want to pitch around somebody, we want them to pay the price. -- Terry Francona on the two intentional walks issued to Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz in the fifth inning.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

BOSTON — Tyler Thornburg’s gone for the season and there’s really no telling when the other set-up man the Sox expected to help in 2017, Carson Smith, will be back.

The Sox have already made inroads, if minor ones, in bolstering their third-base situation and rotation. Smith’s situation leaves a question of whether the Sox will need to pursue help in the bullpen as well.

There's not an easy answer to settle on at this point.

For one, the timetable with the right-hander Smith — whose shoulder has bothered him on the way back from Tommy John surgery — isn’t clear.

“He's in a no-throw [time] through the weekend,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. “He'll be reevaluated on Monday to hopefully initiate a throwing program. He's responding favorably to the treatment. He continues to rehab as he's been. We have not closed the book in a sense on anything Carson can contribute this year.”

What does this year mean, though? Will they be able to know by July, by the trade deadline?

“Still too early to tell,” Farrell said. “We thought he was days from starting his rehab assignment after his last live BP session in New York [on June 6]. Unfortunately, that was put on hold for the time being. To get into any kind of timeframes, timetables, I don't know that any of us can predict that right now.”

The Sox relievers have done extraordinarily well without either Thornburg or Smith. Can that continue without reinforcements? The bullpen’s ERA entering Friday was 2.94, the second best mark in the majors. Its innings total, 217, was the second. lowest in the majors. 

So it’s not like the entire group is about to collapse from fatigue. But a guy like Joe Kelly, for example, isn’t someone the Sox want to use back to back.

It’s a young group and ultimately an inexperienced group. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already fallen into the trap of trading for premium set-up men twice, and that’s a dangerous road to pursue again. Perhaps a smaller trade makes more sense.

“Well, at this point, we’re open minded to help,” Dombrowski said when asked if he was targeting either third-base or relief help. “I’m not going to get into specifics at this time on what else we’re looking for. Keep an open mind on a lot of ways on which we can improve. We have guys coming back and both the spots, I think Carson Smith is very important to us and our bullpen has pitched great. The other day, we struggled but that was one of the few times we really struggled all year. 

“I think Carson still has a chance to come back and help us this year.”

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Right-handed starter Doug Fister, who opted out of his contract with the Angels, has been claimed off waivers by the Red Sox, CSN Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich has confirmed.

The news was first reported by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, who writes that Fister, 33, will join the Red Sox immediately.

Fister opted out of with the Angels after three Triple-A starts in Salt Lake City, where he allowed seven runs on 16 hits with five walks and 10 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. 

With Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson on the DL, the Red Sox need immediate starting pitching help. Triple-A Pawtucket call-up Hector Velazquez made a spot start earlier this week in the fifth spot behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price and Drew Pomeranz. 

Fister will receive $1.75 million in the majors from the Red Sox, with $1.2 million available in additional incentives, according to Cotillo. 

Fister has pitched eight seasons in the majors, including 2016 with the Astros, going 12-13 with 4.64 ERA in 180 1/3 innings. His best season was 2014 with the Nationals (16-6, 2.41 ERA).