Lackey's struggles continue, at worst possible time

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Lackey's struggles continue, at worst possible time

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- John Lackey left Friday's game after three innings when he was struck on the left calf on a hard comebacker by Tampa Bay catcher John Jaso.

But Lackey might have been close to leaving anyway, having been lit up for five runs while needing 69 pitches to record the game's first nine outs.

"I could keep going back out there,'' said Lackey after the Sox lost to Tampa, 7-2. "But obviously I wasn't pitching very well and I wasn't helping out much, anyway.''

Lackey mislocated on a fastball down-and-in to Jaso in the second and Jaso drilled it for a three-run homer. In the third, he retired the first two hitters he faced, then allowed the next five hitters to reach, accounting for two more runs.

"I don't know, man . . . just didn't work out,'' said Lackey, who dropped to 12-12 while his ERA soared to 6.30.

Lackey has now lost three straight starts and has given up 15 runs in those three outings. At a time of year when the Sox need quality starts, Lackey seems incapable of providing them.

"I'm going to keep grinding and see what happens,'' said Lackey. "It's not fun. There is definitely some frustration. I kind of want to go bang my head against a wall. I just have to keep working at it. I'm doing everything I can, it's just not working out.''

It's unclear whether the calf contusion is going to cost him any time before his next start. Tentatively, the Sox had him slated to start Wednesday against Toronto at Fenway.

"The ball caught all flesh,'' said Terry Francona, "so that, in the big scheme of things, is good. It's sore. He got hit hard. They've got compression and ice on it and everything, so hopefully, he'll show up Saturday and it will subside enough so that he can make his next start. We'll keep an eye on him.''

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

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

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Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL's second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season's final week - meaning only one of them can win match Boston's 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.

Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

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Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

Thought to be lost for the season after shoulder surgery this past spring, Pablo Sandoval could possibly return to the Red Sox for the postseason, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Saturday.

Sandoval joined the team in St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox are playing the Tampa Bay Rays. Farrell said Sandoval had played in instructional league games in Florida and was "well ahead of schedule."

He could be an option to be activated if another player is injured. 

“One of the things I put in my mind that I have to work,” Sandoval told Boston Herald. “I learned a lot of things about this surgery so I had to work hard to be on the field as soon as possible.

“There are a lot of things I’ve been doing, working out, doing things so I can get better and better everyday.”

Sandoval, 30, is in the second year of a five-year, $95 contract. He lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw in spring training and in April an MRI revealed he needed surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, which was to have ended his season.

He appeared in only three games this season and hit .245 with 10 homers and 47 RBI in 126 games in 2015.