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

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

Apparently, the Red Sox couldn’t hold onto the best leader in the world. And the best leader in the world has no idea how to housebreak his puppy.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was given the top spot on a list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders," published by Fortune on Thursday morning.

The potential for silly takeaways from Epstein’s placement on the list -- and his response to it in a text to ESPN’s Buster Olney -- are amusing, if not astounding.

Wait, Epstein doesn’t think baseball is the most important thing in the world?

"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house," Epstein told Olney. "That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

Zobrist, of course, had the go-ahead hit in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians.

As Fortune described it, the list of leaders is meant to include those “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same” across business, government, philanthropy and the arts.

Epstein certainly did help transform the baseball world.

“In the fall of 2016, as partisan distrust and division reached abysmal depths, fascination with the Chicago Cubs became that all-too-rare phenomenon that united America,” his blurb on the list begins.

That’s fair. But, if you scroll down the list: Pope Francis is No. 3. Angela Merkel is No. 10 and LeBron James is No. 11.

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Three players are tied for the Red Sox' lead in home runs in Florida. Only two of them will be with the team come Opening Day.

The other may be the starting first baseman a year from now.

Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Sam Travis have all gone deep three times this Grapefruit League season.

Coming back from surgery on his left ACL, Travis has yet to play in the majors. But he easily could later this year.

In a perfect world, though, the 23-year-old spends 2017 at Triple-A Pawtucket. He needs to prove he can consistently hit off-speed pitches.

A right-handed hitting first baseman who played college ball with Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs, Travis already crushes fastballs.

He carries himself like a stereotypical masher, too.

Travis rocks an unbuttoned jersey with no undershirt. No batting gloves. A grip-it-and-rip-it approach and Mike Napoli vibe.

But, don't get too caught up in the image.

"I mean, are you essentially asking like, do I still like have a plan?" Travis said when approached about his reputation.

No, because everyone has a plan. It's a question of how his is formulated, what matters to him. Because it can't always be as simple as see ball, hit ball. And it isn't.

"I definitely watch video. Everyone watches video," Travis said. "You kind of need to watch video when you get to this stage . . . You're in the box, you don't really want to think at all. That's what practice is for. But yeah, I'm definitely working on stuff.

"Just because I don't wear batting gloves doesn't mean I'm just going out there -- I definitely still got an idea what I'm trying to do."

Travis said he tried batting gloves once in high school and they just didn't feel right. So he takes hacks with a 34-inch bat with no frills..

But even when hitters say they don't think at the plate, they do.

If you're up 2-and-0, the thought has to cross your mind: fastball?

"I mean, yeah, you definitely are talking to yourself," Travis said. "But you don't want to get too far into your own thoughts because then that's when you get in trouble."

Slugging involves calculating.

Travis will look at scouting reports, but they're not his end-all be-all. The written ones, anyway. He keeps others in his head.

"I like to know what pitches [an opponent] has, which way pitches are going to move," Travis said. "But you know, you find that out from other players, and of course scouting reports and video. But the best experience is when you're actually in there, when you actually see it first hand.

"I remember everybody."

Video can be used to break down one's own swing, too. But that's not Travis. Tinkering's not his bag.

In part, that's because he's always had a simple approach mechanically.

"I don't really take much of a stride or anything. I kind of just pick it up and put it down," Travis said. "I've always been the guy that can make an adjustment pitch to pitch and at-bat to at-bat depending on what the pitcher is, it just goes with like timing and stuff."

Usually, somewhere along the way -- in the professional or amateur chain -- a coach will try to change a player's swing. Travis said that wasn't the case for him, though.

"No. Not really," Travis said. "Everyone's still gonna have minor adjustments, it's just how the game works. You know, you're going to put a bad swing on the ball. But as long as you recognize it and get right back to where you are . . .

"I've always been a guy who believes less movement, the better it is. That's my own personal opinion. Whatever works for people, that's what they're going to do."

Sometimes, that means loosening a few buttons and just letting it rip.

After watching a little video before the game.