Lackey 'outstanding' in start vs. Rangers

Lackey 'outstanding' in start vs. Rangers
May 11, 2014, 7:15 pm
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- John Lackey hasn't always enjoyed pitching at what's now called Globe Life Park, but that hardly makes him unique.

"I don't know anybody's really enjoyed pitching here, for the most part,'' said Lackey with a smile.

But Sunday, there wasn't much not to like about Lackey's performance. 

He threw strikes, didn't walk a batter, worked quickly and, backed by some first-inning support, fairly cruised to a 5-2 victory over the Texas Rangers.

"I thought he was outstanding,'' said John Farrell of his starter. "Any kind of threat that they posed, he was able to get a strikeout in key moments (nine overall). He pitched with a lead very effectively, didn't issue any base on balls and kept control of the game.''

The ballpark plays small, with swirling winds, and is widely viewed as one of the best hitter's ballparks in either league.

But on Sunday, that didn't seem to matter to Lackey.

He allowed just one over the first three innings while facing the minimum number of hitters. He was touched for a leadoff homer by Shin-Soo Choo to start the fourth, but then retired nine of the next 11 before allowing three straight hits in the seventh, his final inning of work.

He credited catcher A.J. Pierzynski for his game-calling and insistence on a quick tempo.

"He's an aggressive game-caller and I think I pitch pretty aggressively,'' said Lackey, "so I think we've meshed pretty well with that. (Tempo is important) -- when things are flowing like that, it does help to throw strikes, for sure.''

On Sunday, Lackey threw 105 pitches, with 75 for strikes. In his last start, he threw 107 pitches and 70 were for strikes. Two starts before that? Lackey threw 111 pitches with an astounding 84 strikes.

"He threw the ball great,'' said Pierzynski. "One thing about Lack is he throws strikes. And other teams know he throws strikes. We mixed it up a little bit more than the last time with more sliders and stuff. But he puts the ball in good spots. He puts pressure on the other team. Because he doesn't walk guys, he doesn't fall behind guys and he makes guys swing the bat.''

Beyond being in the strike zone, Lackey worked quickly, keeping the Rangers off-balance.

"There's a good tempo to the work (between Lackey and Pierzynski),'' said Farrell. "They kepe the pressure on the hitter, so by working quick and throwing a lot of strikes, he's able to speed a hitter up mentally and force him to swing the bat with the number of strikes he's throwing. And as the (hitters) sense the aggressiveness, he's got such a good breaking ball that he can get some swings-and-misses.''

"I want all of of your guys to work fast,'' said Pierzynski. "I wish we could fast-forward every guy. He wants the ball, he wants to go and he doesn't like to wait around. I like that. I like guys who get the ball and throw it. He's really good at it.''

And the quicker Lackey works, the more it seems to help him throw strikes.

"Absolutely,'' agreed Pierzynski. "It gets him in good rhythm, it gets him going, gets their blood going. I definitely think it helps guys.''