Lackey struggles, can't save bullpen

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Lackey struggles, can't save bullpen

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- In his fifth start against his former team, John Lackey suffered his first loss.

The Red Sox fell to the Angels, 11-0, on Thursday afternoon, little more than 11 hours after their previous game ended. Lackey lasted just four innings, giving up eight runs on 10 hits with three walks and a strikeout. It was his shortest outing since his first start of the season, when he lasted just 3 23 innings in Texas on April 2.

Entering the game, Lackey had been perfect 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA against the Angels but on this afternoon nothing went right for the big right-hander. Although he threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 25 batters he faced, Lackey was hit hard and took the loss, falling to 2-4 (7.16).

After Red Sox pitchers threw 8 23 innings in Wednesdays loss to the Angels -- a marathon 13-inning game that took almost eight hours to play -- manager Terry Francona needed Lackey to go deep into Thursdays game. Lackey, though, was unable to accommodate Francona.

Obviously a tough day, said Francona. He came out of the bullpen, I think pitching coach Curt Young felt like he was really down, depth to the pitches like we talk about. Got to about the third inning, hit Peter Bourjos with an 0-2 pitch. Then everything seemed to kind of flatten out a little bit, stay in the middle, and they bunched together a bunch of hits. But we needed him to try and stay out there for obvious reasons and they just kept swinging. They put up a bunch of hits and we didnt.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has been paired with Lackey for each of his outings this season, knew the objective for him and Lackey.

He didnt have his best stuff, but we knew going in we had to go deep in the game, he said. So I think maybe we tried to just do the best we can and go deep and we made a few mistakes. They just came out swinging today knowing that we had to throw strikes and go deep.

Lackey allowed six two-out hits in the game, including five straight in the fourth, when the Angels scored three runs. Francona, who was disappointed in the results, said he was not disappointed in Lackeys effort.

He will give you everything he has, regardless. Francona said. Never disappointed in Lack. Id never say that. The game didnt go the way we wanted to, thats an understatement. But never be disappointed in his effort. Hed stand out there all day and pitch. Thats not an issue.

Lackey, though, was disappointed in himself.

Yeah it was frustrating, he said. I had several guys with two strikes and wasnt able to put people away. Wasnt able to finish things off.

I didnt locate as well. Probably fell into a few patterns. They might have been sitting on a few things.

If I can pitch the way I pitch, it wouldnt matter how they approach me. I just didn't pitch very well.

Of the 19 first-pitch strikes he threw, nine reached base six on hits, one hit batter, and two by walks. Saltalamacchia could point to nothing specific in Lackeys struggles.

I cant really, he said. They hit some good pitches and at the same time we left some pitches over the middle. But they were aggressive today, which we planned on. But they were just, felt like they were getting the right pitch at the right time.

Saltalamacchia did notice a difference in the Angels approach at the plate Thursday compared to the first three games in the series, which the two teams split.

Yeah, they were a little more aggressive, I feel, definitely with runners in scoring position, a little more aggressive, he said. But they got the hits.

In all, the Angels hit Red Sox pitching for 18 hits, one shy of a season high allowed by Sox pitchers this season.

Last night was rough on the guys, Lackey said. I took off a little early to get ready but I definitely think there was a sense of me needing to pitch well to get some momentum going, for sure. If Id have pitched better early on, I think the guys might have found a little more energy, for sure, today and my lack of execution and lack of pitching well definitely hurt that morale.

Although he had gotten little run support in four straight starts, Lackey said that was not the reason for his poor performance Thursday.

This ones a lot different, he said. I could have won the other two. But I didn't pitch well, didnt deserve to win this one.

While Lackey and Saltalamacchia may be still be getting comfortable with each other, Lackey would not point to that as a reason for his struggles.

Salty had nothing to do with it, Lackey said. I pitched bad. My head shakes fine from side to side. If I throw, it its my fault.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.