ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It's been two weeks since John Lackey's start was sacrificed after a rainout in order to get the Red Sox rotation back in order.
Apparently, however, Lackey hasn't forgotten what he interpreted as a slight.
Tuesday night in Oakland, he noted after his start that he "wasn't happy'' with being skipped.
Sunday, after his second strong outing (eight shutout innings in a 7-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim), Lackey ratcheted up his displeasure.
"I was pissed off,'' he said looking back on being skipped.
When asked if the move had served to motivate him in his last starts (14 innings pitched, one run allowed), an agitated Lackey responded: "What do you think? What's it look like?''
Terry Francona insists the Sox weren't intending to send a message to Lackey.
"We didn't skip him because he was pitching bad,'' he said. ''We skipped him so we didn't screw up the staff. And I think he was mad. I think all competitors get like that. He wanted to come out and show what kind of pitcher he is.''
If this is what it takes to get Lackey back on track, maybe the Red Sox should have tried it earlier.
On Sunday, he consistently got ahead of hitters, threw his breaking ball for strikes on the few occasions when he fell behind, and generally cruised through the Angels lineup.
From the second through the sixth, he allowed just one base hit past the infield.
"I think he's more comfortable hitting his spots,'' volunteered catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "He's not missing over the middle. He's missing more off the plate. He's got to make that first pitch count. You can't just throw it over the middle. And he didn't do that.''
Lackey is now 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA in four starts against his former team.
''I think the familiarity helps a little bit, for sure,'' said Lackey. "They know what I like to do and I guess I kind of know what they might be expecting. It's a cat-and-mouse thing that's going to be ongoing.''
Carl Crawford is hitting just .171, but over the last few games, there have been encouraging signs.
For a change, Crawford isn't looking overmatched.
"He looked in between on every single swing,'' said a scout who watched him earlier this season. "Too slow on fastballs and too quick on the breaking stuff.''
That's no longer the case. He homered -- his first as a member of the Sox -- in the sixth and added a single in the eighth. Sunday represented his second straight multihit game.
"I feel good,'' said Crawford. "I hit the ball hard. When you leave the yard, it feels good. You just want to get a big hit. I've been feeling a little better. I'm not out of the woods yet; I'm still in grind mode. But the good thing is, things are starting to feel a little bit better.''
When Francona decided to sit Jed Lowrie, the Red Sox' hottest hitter, it seemed like a curious move.
But Marco Scutaro, who played shortstop over Lowrie, made his manager look smart with a walk, two hits and two runs scored.
"It's good,'' said Scutaro of his afternoon. "I'm just battling myself right now. I keep working and try to do my job when I'm in the lineup. I've got to keep fighting, but there's a long way to go.
"It's hard enough to keep your hitting stroke going even when you play every day. When I was playing every day at the start of the season, my timing was all messed up. But I just have to keep working on my hitting and be ready for everything.''