BOSTON - If John Lackey was cold Tuesday night, you wouldn't know it.
The temperature hovered in the 40's and the wind was blowing, but Lackey didn't let any of it affect him negatively in the Red Sox' 7-4 win over the Rays.
Lackey pitched 8.0 innings of two-run ball Tuesday night, allowing six hits and a walk while striking out five. He improved to 4-2 on the season with a 3.83 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. He's also struck out at least five batters in all six starts this season.
It's his second straight start of consecutive 8.0-plus innings, the first time he's done so in a Red Sox uniform.
And perhaps the weather actually helped Lackey get on and off the mound as quick as possible (silver linings here, people…).
"I try to be aggressive," Lackey said after the game. "I try to work fast, especially when it's cold. I'm trying to get the guys in the dugout. It wasn't a whole lot of fun out there today, so I was just trying to work quick and trying to get the outs as quick as I could."
Lackey said that when the weather is cold like it was Tuesday night, the baseball feels like a cue ball. No grip, and very slippery.
"Unfortunately I've had a lot of [cold weather] experience lately about the last month or so," Lackey said. "But tonight was probably the worst that it's been honestly, as far as feeling the baseball and being cold out there. But guys played great defense behind me and had a big inning. Bedard came out and threw the ball really great the first few innings, and we were able to scratch a few runs across [in the sixth inning]."
It looked like the weather was affecting the offense more than the pitching to start. Neither the Sox or Rays could get a run up on the board until the fifth inning when Shane Victorino scored Will Middlebrooks on a sacrifice fly. The Rays answered with a run of their own in the top of the sixth, but that's when the bats broke out for Boston in the bottom of the sixth where they scored five runs and put the game away.
"He was outstanding once again," Farrell said of Lackey. "He gave us a chance for the offense to get on track. Made some big pitches after the leadoff double by [James] Loney in the 5th to leave him stranded. They answer back with the one run to tie it in the 6th, and because we were in a low run game we were able to get to their bullpen, put up the five in the 6th and one again he goes through eight strong innings tonight, so a very solid outing once again by John."
A.J. Pierzynski drove in the first run of that 6th inning, a single to center that scored Mike Napoli and moved Jonny Gomes to 3rd base. Pierzynski got the start against the lefty Bedard not just because of his success against Bedard, but because he and Lackey seem to be a package deal now.
Lackey said it didn't take very long at all for the two to get on the same page out on the diamond.
"It was pretty easy for him and I," Lackey said. "I've faced him so many times throughout the years in him being a hitter and me being a pitcher, so he kind of knew what I do and what I have. So it was pretty easy to get on the same page and we work well together."