Lackey misses the mark in loss to Tigers

Lackey misses the mark in loss to Tigers
May 17, 2014, 11:30 pm
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BOSTON - One of the key traits of a great cowboy is accuracy.

John Lackey grew up and still resides in Texas, sometimes walks around in cowboy boots, and wears a cowboy hat. Heck, it even says "Cowboy Parking Only" in the Red Sox clubhouse.

But Lackey's location was off Saturday night in Fenway Park. He missed his targets. And that lead to a 6-1 loss to the Tigers.

Lackey had his worst outing in nearly a month, finishing the night with 5.1 innings pitched, six runs (five earned), nine hits, two walks, and four strikeouts.

He pitched his way into and out of trouble in the 2nd inning, allowing just one run in what was a bases-loaded-no-outs situation. But Lackey never had control of this outing, letting the Tigers claw away at him.

He allowed a Miguel Cabrera solo shot around Pesky's Pole on an 0-2 count to make it 2-0 in the third, and then in the fifth inning unraveled a bit. Lackey allowed three doubles and a single in that 5th inning, doubling the Tigers' lead to 4-0.

Again in the sixth, Lackey gave up two more doubles that scored another run before he was pulled.

John Farrell pointed to Lackey's location, or lack thereof, as the reason behind the off-night.

"Yeah, I thought he had very good stuff," Farrell said. "There were some mislocated fastballs particularly to the arm side that they were able to capitalize on. When you saw the doubles to the right-handers those were balls that ended up on the inside part of the plate.

"Then Miggy pushes an 0-2 fastball that finds its way out of the ballpark for the solo home run."

Lackey has been good at Fenway Park, and that's largely due to how he's usually accurate with his pitches. The fact that he missed his fastballs to his arm side was surprising.

"It is a rarity because he's done so well with using the ballpark with center field and right field," Farrell said, "and whether it was a tendency to rush a little bit where his arm wouldn't catch up, that's a possibility. But the consistent fastball location wasn't the same tonight as we've seen from just about every season from him."

Lackey took the loss and fell to 5-3 on the year. His ERA rose from 3.57 to 4.01.

"Just didn't get some locations there in the 5th inning," Lackey said. "That was pretty much really the only inning that I would like to take back, like to do better in. Just didn't locate some balls in that inning for sure."

What was also noticeable was how fast the Tigers jumped on Lackey. Lackey threw 20 first-pitch strikes in the 27 batters he faced, and that includes the hits. In the fifth inning Ian Kinsler's double, Torii Hunter's double, and Miguel Cabrera's single all came on a total of four pitches - all four-seamers.

It seems as though the Tigers were keen on swinging at a strike just as much as Lackey was at throwing one.

"That kind of happens a lot to me," Lackey said. "One of the things I do is I throw a lot of first-pitch strikes. I might need to make a few adjustments for sure, because they were definitely aggressive in that inning."

It's the third time this year Lackey allowed six runs in a game. Cabrera's solo shot was the first home run Lackey allowed at Fenway this season and his first since Sept. 19 2013 vs. the Orioles, including the postseason.