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

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

NEW YORK -- The division title was there for the taking Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. When you've won 11 straight and steamrolled every other team in the division, what's one more?

One too many, apparently.

The Red Sox' 6-4 defeat to the New York Yankees postponed the Champagne party for at least one night. In and of itself, that's not a huge concern. The Sox' magic number remains one with five games to play and the club's epic hot streak had to come to an end eventually.

A better night by either David -- Ortiz or Price -- might have resulted in corks popping and on-field celebrations.

Ortiz was 0-for-5 and stranded a total of seven baserunners. When he came to the plate in the top of the ninth against Tyler Clippard with two outs and two on, it almost seemed scripted.

Here was Ortiz in his final Yankee Stadium series, about to inflict one final bit of misery on the rival Yankees with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth.

Talk about drama. Talk about one more famous, final scene.

Alas, Ortiz took some feeble swings and swung through strike three for the final out. Not even Ortiz, for all his clutch performances, can conjure a game-winner on-demand every time.

A far bigger concern was the work of Price. Perhaps the best thing than can be said of him for now is that he almost certainly will not have to face the Yankees again this season, against whom he's compiled a gaudy 7.89 ERA this season.

More troubling, though, is that Price is not exactly hitting his stride as the postseason appears on the near horizon. In his last three starts combined, Price has pitched 19 1/3 innings and allowed 27 hits and 14 runs.

That isn't the line of someone at peak form at the right time. To the contrary, after a run of outings in which it again appeared Price had figured everything out, he's regressed in his last three.

Most troubling Tuesday was a repeated inability to turn back the Yankees after his team had pulled close on the scoreboard.

Price spotted the Yankees a 3-0 lead, and the Sox finally scored twice in the top of the 6th to close within one at 3-2. But Price quickly gave anther run back in the bottom of the inning.

Then the Sox scored two more times in the seventh to tie things at 4-4. . . but Price gave the two runs right back in the bottom of the inning.

"Very frustrating,'' sighed Price. "It's something I talk about all the time. It's a very big deal. And it's something I feel like I've struggled with this entire year. Whenever you're going good, it's something you're doing very well. And whenever you're going bad...you get a lead, give it right back. . . that's tough.''

It also doesn't portend well for the postseason, where Price, as you may have heard, has a spotty track record.

With some strong starts in the final few weeks, he could have reached the playoffs with both momentum and confidence.

Instead, he's got one more start -- Sunday -- to straighten things out.

Ortiz? His postseason bona fides are set.

Price, meanwhile, has no such reservoir of success upon which to draw. And starts like Tuesday's only reinforce the doubts.

 

Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz goes 0-for-5 in loss to Yankees

NEW YORK -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees:

 

QUOTES:

"I went 0-for-5 today, so I ain't got (anything) to talk about.'' - David Ortiz after turning around and seeing a small army of reporters waiting for him in front of his locker.

"To have a chance to clinch the division for us here (and come up sort), it's not acceptable. If my offense scores me four runs, I feel like I should be able to go out there and win.'' - David Price.

"The bottom line story to this one was (Price) mislocating within the strike zone.'' - John Farrell.

 

NOTES:

* Boston's season-best 11-game win streak was snapped with the loss.

* David Price took his first loss since Aug. 7.

* Price is 1-3 with a 7.89 ERA against the Yankees this season.

* Aaron Hill contributed his first pinch-hit homer in his career.

* Mookie Betts saw his streak of reaching base in 38 straight road games stopped.

* Dustin Pedroia posted his third straight multi-hit game.

* For the 20th time this season, Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a three-hit game.

* In his last 12 games, Andrew Benintendi has eight extra-base hits.

* Hill's pinch-hit homer was the third by the Red Sox this month.

 

STARS:

1) Tyler Austin

The rookie first baseman snapped a 4-4 tie in the seventh with a two-run homer and also added two more hits in three at-bats.

2) Gary Sanchez

The first-year catcher continues to amaze, hitting his 20th homer in only his 51st game, sending the Yanks out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning.

3) Luis Cessa

Cessa took a big step forward from his last start against the Red Sox by keeping them scoreless through the first five innings before allowing two runs in the sixth.