Lackey misses mark against Blue Jays

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Lackey misses mark against Blue Jays

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON It hasnt been an easy season for John Lackey. It's been equally difficult for him to figure out why.

He started the 2011 season slow, was injured, pitched well coming off the disabled list, but he had lost his previous two starts coming into Monday's game Then, against the Blue Jays on Independence Day, Lackey struggled once again and wasn't sure why.

Lackey lasted just 2 13 innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits, with no walks, two strikeouts, and a home run. In his career, he has only made two shorter outings.

He has now lost his last three, dropping his record to 5-8 with a 7.47 ERA. Since coming off the DL, he has given up 25 earned runs in 33 innings, for a 6.82. The three straight losses match the longest such streak of his career.

Definitely got to find that consistency, Lackey said. Ive felt a lot better since Ive come off the DL but Ive pitched some good games and lost and obviously had some pretty rough ones.

In three starts against the Blue Jays this season he is 1-2, with a 12.00 ERA, allowing 20 earned runs in 15 innings. In seven starts against the Blue Jays in his two seasons with the Sox, Lackey has posted a record of 2-4 with a 9.95 ERA, giving up 42 earned runs in 38 innings, his highest ERA against any team he has faced at least twice in that time.

The Blue Jays were on Lackey right from the get-go as leadoff batter Rajai Davis doubled on Lackeys third pitch of the game, stole third and scored when Kevin Youkilis couldnt handle the throw from Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Lackey gave up two more runs in the second, including a solo homer by Aaron Hill. In the fourth, he allowed three straight singles to open the frame before retiring a batter. After two more hits, including two-run double by Travis Snider, the last batter he faced, four runs had scored and Lackeys day was done.

We dug ourselves a hole early, said manager Terry Francona. I thought the breaking ball he had the other day in Philly the real good one wasnt there today. He left a couple up, especially last hitter. There were times he made pitches. He threw a down and in pitch to a left-hander, he hits it to left field for a hit. There was some hard contact. There was some contact that wasnt. A lot of hits and they strung them together and they put up a lot of runs.

Lackey, who walked off the field to a chorus of boos, said his primary problem was location.

I wouldve fixed it if I would have known how, he said. I gave up some soft ones that fell in on some good pitches and made some bad pitches that got hit hard. It kind of all added up to that.

His catcher agreed.

I think the main thing was just control, Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. He didnt have the accuracy hes normally got. But at the same time, it seemed like everything we threw, it could have been off the plate, it could have been down and they put it in play. There was some hits that just kind of fell in. At the same time they hit some balls good. Lacks great at being a competitor, keeping us in the ball game, just trying to outlast the other pitcher. Just today he didnt have it.

There have been no easy answers for Lackey, who has also been dealing with personal issues this season. After Mondays loss, he said, despite expected aches and pains, there is nothing physically wrong that would prevent him from pitching.

Ive been pitching for 10 years, man, he said. Were all hampered at this point in some way. But nothing, no excuse there, definitely nothing thats going to keep me from pitching.

Just continue to work hard. Ive made a lot of adjustments, kind of on the fly, and some of those hopefully will turn into results soon.

In his previous start, June 29 in Philadelphia, Lackey went 7 23 innings, giving up just two runs on eight hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

The way he pitched in Philly was the best Ive seen him, Saltalamacchia said. He was just, wherever I put the glove, he hit it. Had the velocity. Warming up in the pen Monday he looked great, had good velocity on the ball, everything was moving. They just, early in the count, they put balls in play and were able to get some runs.

The biggest difference against the Blue Jays on Monday was location, Saltalamacchia said.

I think thats something that hes always had, he said. Wherever you put the glove he hits it. So it was a mixture of he missed a few pitches, but at the same time, some balls fell in, that you know, thats just the way its been going for him. I just feel bad because hes out there competing every day.

Francona would not rush to judgment.

I dont think you ever evaluate 10 minutes after a game because thats dangerous, he said. Just a disappointing game all around. We didnt do a lot of things well. Well try to figure it out.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.