Lackey extends streak; homers pace Sox, 6-4

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Lackey extends streak; homers pace Sox, 6-4

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

SEATTLE It might be difficult to fathom, but John Lackey is riding a six-game winning streak thats shot him all the way up to a team-high 11 wins on the season.

Both Lackey and left-handed ace Jon Lester hold 11 wins for the Sox this season, but theyve arrived on equal footing by enduring much different routes.

It wasnt easy and it certainly wasnt baseball aesthetics 101, but Lackey trudged through six plus innings and battled until his offense scrambled to secure a 6-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

The big blow was a majestic Josh Reddick homer into the right field faade in the top of the sixth inning that bestowed the Sox with their first lead of the night, and also snapped Reddick out of a 1-for-14 funk at the plate. With a two-run lead in hand, Lackey and a team of Sox relievers gutted out the last three innings to preserve a much-needed victory for an AL East team thats again streaking in August.

Lackey was knocked around for four runs and 10 hits in his six plus frames, but he also executed a couple of really important things when it comes to winning. Lackeys bend-but-dont-break pitching style allowed the Sox to hang around in the game, and he was highly effective over his final couple of frames once he was handed the lead.

Lackey left a jam in the top of the seventh, but the combination of Franklin Morales and Daniel Bard quieted the Mariners right down not exactly a great baseball achievement when the Ms entered the game hitting .229 as a team.

It looked early on like this would be the night where things went bad again for Lackey after a nice little ride during the last six weeks. The Ms offense singled Lackey to death in the first two frames and actually plated three runs while stringing together six hits and two walks before six outs were recorded.

But Seattle never managed to get the one big break to force things wide open, and then couldnt touch a Sox bullpen thats again looking rested and relaxed after a brief bout with pitching fatigue.

Instead the Sox chipped away with solo homers by David Ortiz in the second inning and Jed Lowrie batting left-handed in the fifth frame that kept them within a single run of the Mariners. Reddicks home run finally pushed the Sox ahead, and it all ended with Jonathan Papelbon cutting the Ms down for his 27th save of the season.

Player of the Game: Josh Reddick snapped out of a 1-for-14 mini-funk by jumping all over a Blake Beavan fastball in the top of the sixth inning and launching it into the right field scoreboard faade under the Hit it Here Caf. Reddicks two-run blast gave the Sox their first and only lead of the night, which they managed to protect through the final three innings for the victory. Reddicks 25 RBI on the season place him among the top five rookie producers in the AL this season. On a day when J.D. Drew took live batting practice, Reddick made sure to show up big in a game his team looked destined to lose.

Honorable Mention: Mike Carp is probably the punch line to more than a few jokes around baseball as the cleanup hitter for the Seattle Mariners, but he did everything possible to deliver the Ms a victory. He came through with run-scoring hits in the first and fourth innings, and singled again in the seventh for his third hit of the night while his Ms teammates attempted one last rally.

The Goat: Justin Smoak the young slugger stranded five Mariners runners in his first two at bats when the Ms had a teetering John Lackey on the ropes, but failed to step on the Sox righty when his team had him reeling on the mound. Smoak then added injury to the insult when a Jarrod Saltalamacchia one-bounce hot shot kicked up and hit him in the left side of his face and fractured his nose. Smoak had to leave the game after taking the ball in the face, and with no judgment on his individual toughness at all once again proved the monumental toughness chasm between baseball players and hockey players when it comes to playing through paininjuries.

Turning Point: The Seattle Mariners stranded six runners in the first three innings when John Lackey was hemorrhaging base runners on the mound, and could never separate from a Red Sox team that just kept hanging around. The Sox never had the lead, but they never let Seattle separate either. Eventually Josh Reddick stung the Mariners pitching staff with the two-run blast, and the Ms had nobody to blame but themselves for missing multiple chances for an early round knockout against Lackey and his ballclub. Seattle left a whopping 11 guys on base in the loss.

By the Numbers: 36-22 with the road win against the Mariners, the Red Sox tied the Philadelphia Phillies for the best road record in Major League Baseball this season with a .621 winning percentage.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

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McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

Three takeaways from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night . . . 

1) Long relief may be short for the Red Sox in the postseason

The news that Drew Pomeranz won't start Thursday and is dealing with forearm soreness was ominous -- to say the least. While the Sox aren't concerned enough to order up an MRI for the lefty, it seems a fair bet that he won't pitch again this season. Pomeranz wasn't going to crack the postseason rotation and would likely have been relegated to relief duty. Now, even that seems a stretch.

Add that development to the continued absence of Steven Wright and the Red Sox are missing 40 percent of their rotation from late July and early August.

Healthy, both would have been stretched-out and available to provide multiple innings in the postseason.

Of course, most teams would prefer to not have to rely on long men in the postseason, since their very appearance in a game would signifiy that a starter got knocked out early.

When that happens, however, it's nice to have experienced, dependable arms to cover innings and not impact the bullpen's high-leverage pitchers.

Now, in such a scenario, the Sox will likely have to turn to either Robbie Ross Jr. or Heath Hembree.

2) Is Aaron Hill heating up?

In the month of September, Hill has posted a line of .381/.409/.571. On Tuesday night, he blasted a pinch-hit homer.

Admittedly, that's a relatively small sample size. But Hill has had better at-bats of late, especially against lefties.

It's doubtful that he'll take over third base -- now or in the postseason -- full-time, since John Farrell has two left-handed hitting options, with Travis Shaw and Brock Holt. Shaw certainly more power and has shown the ability to go on hot streaks at the plate.

But Hill is a veteran player, albeit one with little postseason experience (11 at-bats in the Division Series for Arizona in 2011) for a 12-year veteran.

And one other benefit: Hill is a .373 career hitter as a pinch-hitter, making him a valuable part off the bench in games started by either Holt or Shaw.

3) One loss is all it took for the second-guessing to resurface

The Sox had won 11 straight before Tuesday's loss, which quickly re-introduced criticism of Farrell.

Starter David Price had given up four runs through six innings, but the Sox rallied for two runs off Tommy Layne in the seventh to tie things at 4-4.

At 76 pitches, Price went back out for the seventh and promptly yielded a two-run homer to Tyler Austin, giving the Yanks another two-run lead.

Price hadn't been sharp in the first six. With expanded rosters, plenty of available relievers and a rested bullpen after a day off Monday, why stick with Price?

Offered Farrell: "You go with a right-hander they’re going to go with [Mark] Teixeira and [Brian] McCann with that right-field porch,” Farrell said. “Wanted to keep the (right-handed hitters) in the ballgame, (but Price) mislocated over the plate.”

Felger: Will October be a dance or a dud?

Felger: Will October be a dance or a dud?

For a Red Sox team that has been the best in baseball in September and had won 11 straight prior to last night, you have to admit: There are a lot of things that could go the other way with this team in the playoffs that wouldn't surprise you.

To wit:

-- Would it surprise you if David Price blew up again in the postseason? He has a 5.12 career postseason ERA and has never won a playoff start. Was last night a precursor? He looked like his old shaky October self with a chance to clinch the division in Yankee Stadium.

-- Would it surprise you if Clay Buchholz crapped his pants when it mattered most? This is your No. 3 starter, folks, or No. 4 at worst. He's getting the ball in the playoffs either way, and if I told you that two months ago you'd tell me the Sox are sunk. He looks good now, but we all know he is the ultimate tease.

-- Would it surprise you if John Farrell blows a game with a bone-headed decision from the bench? Of course not; he's been doing that for nearly four years. Yes, he did it all the way to a title in 2013, but the possibility remains very real. It's in the back of most everyone's mind.

-- Would it surprise you if Koji Uehara regresses and the eighth inning once again becomes a problem? Uehara certainly has the experience and has pitched well recently, but the fact is that it feels like his arm is attached by a noodle.

-- Would it surprise you if some of the Sox' youth shows its age? It shouldn't. Happens all the time. Would it surprise you if Craig Kimbrel can't find the plate in a big save situation? It shouldn't. He's shown glimpses of it all season and has never pitched past the division series in his career. Would it surprise you if Hanley Ramirez makes an important mistake at first? Or the Sox' hole at third becomes a factor? Nope and nope.

We could play this game all night.

Now, what do I think is going to happen? I think the Sox are going to pitch well, even Price, and the offense will remain a force. I have full faith in Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Rick Porcello and the lineup in general. There's a feeling on this team that's hard to ignore, likely inspired by Ortiz, and I think they'll keep it going in the postseason. I agree with those who say the Sox have the most talent in the American League, so that's a great place to start. I don't know if that means the ALCS, the World Series or a championship. I just think they'll continue to play well into October.

But all of that is just a feeling, just a prediction -- and you know what those are good for. The point is this: If it goes the other way for the Sox, I think we already have the reasons why.

E-mail Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on CSN.