Lackey suffers familiar fate in Arlington

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Lackey suffers familiar fate in Arlington

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- John Lackey's career ERA at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington stood at 6.11 before Saturday night's start.

The fact that that number increased following his outing tells you everything you need to know about Lackey's night, and, with it, how the Red Sox 2011 season is going so far.

Lackey talked a good game in spring training about being in better shape, having better arm strength and experiencing a better feel for his full repertoire of pitches.

But on the mound Saturday for his season debut, there was more of what made his first season with the Red Sox ultimately disappointing: too many baserunners, too many balls in play, and too many big innings.

Lackey didn't offer any excuses this time-- though he hinted that he got squeezed on a pitch to Julio Borbon for what would have been the final out in the fourth. He didn't try to suggest, as he did often last season, that he was the victim of bad luck, or subtly suggest that his defense let him down.

Then again, it was hard to dress this one up: 3 23 innings pitched, 10 hits allowed, 9 runs charged. And of the 10 hits, seven were for extra bases, topped by a grand slam by former teammate Adrian Beltre.

No amount of sugarcoating could cover this up.

Since 2008, Lackey is 2-5 with a 8.39 ERA over 11 starts against the Rangers. In that span, they're hitting .369 against him with 10 homers, which makes you wonder about the team's decision to have Lackey open the season here rather than Josh Beckett.

Of course, it was just one start. But again, the discouraging thing about Saturday was that it was so familiar. In 2010, Lackey seldom was mediocre, despite a won-loss record and ERA that suggested precisely that. His final numbers were, instead, the mean average that resulted from a good number of quality starts -- he led the team, as he pointed out more than once during the spring, in that category -- and another 10 or so in which he was, like Saturday night, abysmal.

There were extenuating circumstances Saturday. Like the Red Sox, the Rangers can lay claim to a formidable offensive lineup. And unlike the Red Sox -- so far, at least -- nearly every hitter in the Texas batting order appears locked in.

Throw in a summer-like night, swirling winds and an already favorable ballpark for hitters and it was a bad cocktail for Lackey.

All the more discouraging was that Lackey thought the start of this season would be different.

"It's definitely not the start we wanted to get off to -- personally or as a team,'' said Lackey. "I expect to do well every time I pitch. It's a shock when something like this happens, for sure. It sucks. But it's one game.''

After allowing a leadoff homer to Ian Kinsler, Lackey seemed to settle down some, retiring seven of the next eight hitters, including three strikeouts in the span of four at-bats.

But the respite was brief. The Rangers began squaring up pitches and driving them all over the ballpark. Baserunners seem to come off an assembly line.

This was the same pitcher who gave up the most baserunners of any pitcher in the American League last year, falling into the same old patterns.

"You just kind of wipe this away,'' concluded Lackey, "and go back to work.''

That's about all he can say or do. But on a night when some were looking for a fresh start for Lackey, he couldn't provide one.

"We've got a long way to go,'' said Lackey.

He was talking about the long season, and how it was way too early to be drawing conclusions. But he could have been talking about himself and how much work he still needs to do.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Quotes, notes and stars: Betts belts three home runs

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Quotes, notes and stars: Betts belts three home runs

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Orioles.

 

QUOTES

"If he has a boy, he ought to make him Mookie after tonight's outing.'' - John Farrell on Jackie Bradley Jr., who left the team for a paternity leave after Mookie Betts slugged three homers.

"I know each day that I've got it. I wake up, I know I have it. I come to the field, I know I have it.'' - Xander Bogaerts on his ongoing hitting streak.

"He's probably one of the few guys, every time I see him hit, I think he's going to hit a homer. He's just that presence that he has in the batter's box.'' - Bogaerts on Betts.

"This is probably my best night; first time I've ever done that.'' - Betts, when asked where the game ranks individually for him in his career.

"I wanted to locate the heater good, not force it too much, don't try to throw hard - just try to throw strikes.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on his season debut.

 

NOTES:

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 24 games, second-longest in baseball this season.

* Bogaerts has hit safely in 36-of-38 games at a .399 clip with 33 runs scored and 23 driven in.

* Eduardo Rodriguez two runs or fewer in each of his three career starts at Camden Yards.

* The Sox had back-to-back homers (Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia) for the first time this season.

* Mookie Betts had a three-homer game for the first time in his career.

* Betts became the first Red Sox player to homer three times in the same game since Will Middlebrooks did so on April 7, 2013.

* The last time the Sox began a game with back-to-back homers was July 27, 2011 when Jacoby Ellsbury and Pedroia did so.

* The Red Sox scored multiple runs in the first inning for the 20th time in 51 games.

* David Ortiz extended his own hit streak to eight games.

 

STARS:

1) Mookie Betts

Betts belted three homers -- one to left, one to center and one to right -- for the first time in his career and also contributed a brilliant diving catch in right in the seventh inning.

2) Eduardo Rodriguez

Rodriguez made his season debut and allowed two runs on six hits through six innings and didn't issue a single walk while fanning three.

3) Chris Young

Getting a rare start in center, Young made a spectacular catch to likely rob Manny Machado of a two-run homer, while drawing a walk and adding a single and a run scored.

 

First impressions: A good start for Rodriguez in 6-2 win

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First impressions: A good start for Rodriguez in 6-2 win

BALTIMORE -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles:

 

Eduardo Rodriguez's first start of the season was a good one.

Rodriguez, making his 2016 debut after a freak knee injury suffered at the beginning of spring training, tossed six innings and allowed two runs on five hits.

He flashed his trademark changeup on a number of occasions, getting a handful of swing-and-misses with it. His fastball velocity, which had been questionable in his rehab outings, was slightly improved.

He wasn't as efficient as the Red Sox would have liked, needing 89 pitches to get through six innings. But again, for his first start, there was little about which to complain.

 

Betts had a decent night at the plate.

Betts cracked three homers for five RBI, nearly single-handedly doing enough offensively to beat the Orioles.

He homered to center in the first, down the left field line in the second and, finally, to right field in the seventh to become the 27th player in Red Sox history to homer three times in one game.

Hitting at the top of the lineup, Betts is on pace to hit 36 homers and knock in more than a 120 runs. The power he generates from a relatively small frame is something to behold.

Betts is now second on the team in RBI -- again, from the top spot in the order, though that's been aided by the fact that Jackie Bradley Jr. has hit eighth or ninth for much of the season, providing Betts with plenty of RBI opportunities.

 

The Chris Young experiment in center worked well for the first night. With Jackie Bradley Jr. on paternity leave, the Sox will keep Mookie Betts in right and have Young play center.

Young was once a full-time center fielder earlier in his career, but in recent years, has been viewed by most as more of a corner outfielder, perhaps without the range to play center.

But Tuesday night, Young did a nice job chasing down a ball hit to the warning track by Adam Jones in the third, then capped it two batters later when he leaped above the wall in center and took away what was likely a two-run homer by Manny Machado.

 

Robbie Ross Jr. has been an overlooked part of the bullpen.

With improved velocity on his fastball, Ross has 24 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings.

Moreover, Ross has allowed just two earned runs over his last 12 games and since April 17 -- about six weeks ago -- he has an ERA of 1.23.

Thought of as a low-leverage long man early in the season, he's earned the trust of the Red Sox to be used in more high-leverage spots as the season has developed.

 

Tuesday's Red Sox-Orioles lineups: E-Rod makes 2016 debut

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Tuesday's Red Sox-Orioles lineups: E-Rod makes 2016 debut

Eduardo Rodriguez makes his 2016 Red Sox debut tonight, and he'll have a different center fielder as he does so.

Jackie Bradley Jr. on paternity leave and Chris Young is taking his place in center. The rest of the lineup, however, remains intact as the Sox face the Orioles in their second game of their four-game series in Baltimore.

The lineups:

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young CF
Blake Swihart LF
Christian Vazquez C
---
Eduardo Rodriguez P

ORIOLES:
Adam Jones CF
Nolan Reimold LF
Manny Machado SS
Chris Davis 1B
Mark Trumbo DH
Matt Wieters C
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Joey Rickard RF
Paul Janish 3B
---
Kevin Gausman P