Notes: Lackey sparkles in return


Notes: Lackey sparkles in return

By Sean McAdam

OAKLAND, Calif. -- It had been a long time since John Lackey had last pitched. But watching him work Tuesday night, that was hardly evident.

Lackey, whose last turn in the rotation was skipped following a rainout at home, tossed six innings and allowed just one run on four hits against the Oakland A's.

The Sox were shut out, 5-0, resulting in a tough-luck loss for Lackey, who fell to 1-2.

"I felt pretty good," said Lackey. "I was locating pretty well. I was able to throw my breaking pitches over for strikes and my fastball location was definitely better than it was the first two times."

Asked if he had ever had a layoff that long that wasn't related to a physical issue, Lackey said: "I've never been skipped before, no."

When asked if the decision hurt his pride some, Lackey thought for a second before saying: "It was not fun."

"I thought he did tremendous," said Terry Francona of his starter. "I thought he was terrific. The problem was, we didn't score. But I thought he bounced back well. It's been a long week for him. The layoff was tough for him and he did a great job."

Hideki Okajima, who was called up from Pawtucket over the weekend, made his 2011 debut -- and it was hardly a success.

Okajima entered the game with the Sox trailing 1-0 and a baserunner on second and no out in the eighth. By the time he left, it was 4-0 and would soon grow to 5-0.

After getting Coco Crisp to fly to center, Okajima allowed a run-scoring single to Daric Barton. Following a called stirkeout of David DeJesus, he walked Josh Willingham, then gave up a two-run double to Hideki Matsui.

Alfredo Aceves then came up and was touched for a run-scoring single by Kurt Suzuki, which was charged to Okajima.

Terry Francona was ejected for the first time this season after the Sox believed that Brett Anderson had committed a balk in the fourth inning.

DeMarlo Hale managed the game the rest of the way.

"The rule is you can't deceive a runner," said Francona. "He started to the plate, changed his mind, landed toward the plate . . . For me, it was a balk all the way."

Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a rough night, as the A's ran unchecked on the bases, with two stolen bases.

Not counting pickoffs, opponents have been successful 14-of-17 times in attempting to steal.

Tuesday night, Coco Crisp stole second to lead off the bottom of the first and soon scored the first run of the game. In the eighth, Cliff Pennington swiped third after a leadoff double and scored the second run of the night.

Saltalamacchia also mishandled a throw from the outfield and had difficulty throwing the ball back to the mound once, skipping the ball to the left of Lackey.

Matt Albers (lat pull), who threw twoinnings of relief (one hit, one strikeout) for Pawtucket Tuesday night,will meet the Red Sox in Anaheim and presumably be activated for thestart of the series Thursday.

It's likely thatAlfredo Aceves will be returned to Pawtucket and placed in the Paw Soxstarting rotation to get stretched out.

Sean McAdam can be reached at on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Buchholz may have earned a spot in the postseason rotation, and with the 2017 Red Sox


Buchholz may have earned a spot in the postseason rotation, and with the 2017 Red Sox

NEW YORK -- Clay Buchhlz's start Wednesday night didn't result in a win for him, or even, as it turned out, for his team. But that didn't detract from the brilliant effort he turned in -- six shutout innings, one hit allowed -- on the night that the Red Sox almost unwittingly clinched the division title.

”It was good to go out (and pitch well) in this place," said Buchholz Thursday, "because I haven't ever pitched well here. So it was gratifying to throw well against a club that, historically, I haven't thrown well against."

It's widely assumed that Buchholz will be the team's fourth starter in the post-season and as the playoffs approach, Buchholz is throwing the ball better than he has all season.

"Physically, I feel good," said Buchholz. "It's been an up-and-down year for me individually. You have to learn from the time when you're not doing your job, and sometimes, you have to take a step back. Moving to the bullpen wasn't exactly what I had mapped out in my head for me to do this year, but overall, it helped me out to take a deep breath and work on stuff."

MORE BUCHHOLZ: McAdam: Buchholz now limiting, rather than fueling, big innings

It was surprising that Buchholz was lifted after just 89 pitches, but John Farrell has appeared to be reluctant to have Buchholz go much beyond that since his return to the rotation in August.

"At that moment, obviously I wanted to go back out (for more)," said Buchholz. "But the way our bullpen's thrown (of late), I'd much rather give whoever comes in a clean inning rather than giving up a couple of hits in the seventh and have someone come in the game with runners on and making their job harder.

"As far as the pitch count goes, that's why John's the manager -- he has the reins on whether I go back out or not go back out, or how many pitches I'm going to throw. But I feel good. I could have gone out and thrown as many pitches as they wanted me to."

Having endured an up-and-down season, Buchholz has a renewed appreciation for the upcoming post-season.

"There was a bumpy road for a while," Buchholz said. "There were moments a little tougher than others, but this is our job and regardless of what position you put yourself in, you still have to go out and do your job. But knowing where we are now, I think this team's built right to go deep in the playoffs."

SOME STILL AREN'T BUCHHOLZ BELIEVERS: Bertrand: Even with good start, I can't trust Clay Buchholz

Buchholz doesn't have a guaranteed contract for next year, but the expectation is the Red Sox will pick up his option worth $13.5 million.

"I understand the business side of it," he said. "That's part of the game. But if I'm healthy and throwing the ball well, I feel like I'm going to have a job somewhere. This is the only place I've ever been and I'd love for it to be here.

"That's to be decided, I guess. I'm sure we'll talk about it after all this is over and done with. But I'm going to try to have as much fun while I'm here and I hope I'm back here next year."

Ortiz to play rest of regular season for Sox with guaranteed rest before playoffs

Ortiz to play rest of regular season for Sox with guaranteed rest before playoffs

NEW YORK -- Now that the division title has been wrapped up, the Red Sox turn their attention to getting ready for the post-season -- but not at the expense of trying to win as many games as possible.

Part of the planning for the Sox involves how much to play David Ortiz, who is retiring when the Red Sox are through in the post-season.

On Thursday night, his final road game and last appearance at Yankee Stadium, the Sox planned to have Ortiz get at least two at-bats in recognition of the fans in New York who wanted to see him one more time.

As for the last series at Fenway, it will be business as usual with Ortiz playing all three.

"We don't foresee any pullback in terms of his number of at-bats," said Farrell of the weekend series with Toronto. "It's a weekend of celebration well-deserved and we'll have time to recover."

Farrell noted that under the current playoff format, teams which win their division get three full days off after the final regular season games. That helps in preparation.

"The importance of winning and maintaining our daily approach is priority No. 1," said Farrell. "How that might affect how deep a starter goes in the upcoming games might be looked at a little more closely. Still, we feel it's imperative to secure as much home field as we can."

On Thursday night, Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon were all given the night off. Others will get the same opportunity over the weekend.