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

First impressions: Red Sox implode in 6th inning, lose to Royals, 10-4

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First impressions: Red Sox implode in 6th inning, lose to Royals, 10-4

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 10-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Boston’s bullpen continues to be a roll of the dice every night.

This time Matt Barnes was the latest reliever to suffer from the plague that’s filled this bullpen all season.

Part of it was bad luck on two perfectly placed balls, the other part was Raul Mondesi lacing a triple, and Lorenzo Cain smacking a single.

Robbie Ross was better, but not by much.

No lead seems safe in the hands of any Boston reliever.

 

David Ortiz keeps putting himself in the same breath as legendary Hall of Famers.

This time it was former Red Sox great Jimmie Foxx, who Ortiz is now tied with at 534 home runs, 18th all time.

Early in the season he’d match a legendary player every so often, it was impressive. Now it’s almost to be expected every night he plays.

Next on the all-time home run list is Yankee Legend Mickey Mantle with 536.

 

The bottom of the order continues to play an important role in Boston’s run production.

Chris Young got things started in the fifth, then Sandy Leon and Jackie Bradley Jr. kept it rolling so both Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts could cash in all three runners.

Moving JBJ back to ninth Saturday proved to be a good move, and moving Leon back down with his recent scuffles seems to be the best move, too.

Not only can they knock each other in any given instance, but they also put Dustin Pedroia (or Holt) and Bogaerts in run-producing situations, as opposed to just setting the table.

 

Chris Young’s hamstring shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

He was able to leg out the soft grounder to third base in the first inning.

Young has lost a step or two with age, but it seemed like he opened it up on the play.

Hopefully that’s a sign of the end of the injuries in left field this season.

 

Junichi Tazawa looked strong.

That’s more so an observation of his fastball reaching 94 mph.

Tazawa has a long way to go before he’s back to where he was, but the righty took a step in the right direction Sunday night. He retired Kansas City’s 2-3-4 hitters in his first inning and working past a leadoff single in his second inning of work.