ANAHEIM, Calif. — John Lackey is not Just Another Guy. He has won 117 games in his career and three more in the postseason. He's been an All-Star, received votes for the Cy Young Award and landed an $82.5 million contract with the Red Sox.
So when his start on April 13 got rained out and the Red Sox decided to skip him, Lackey was ripped. Terry Francona said it was a scheduling issue. By skipping Lackey, the Red Sox could keep their other starters on their regular rest.
That made sense. But you can bet the Sox wouldn't have skipped Jon Lester in the same scenario and Lackey knew it. For the first time in his career, Lackey was being avoided.
"It pissed me off, yeah," he said.
In the two starts since, Lackey has allowed one run over 14 innings. He bamboozled the Angels today, scattering six hits over eight innings with one walk. He struck out six in a 7-0 victory.
So did Lackey use the slight as motivation?
"What's it look like?'' he said.
Hey, whatever works. The Sox were 2-9 at the time he was skipped and feelings could not be an issue. Their starters have been lights-out since (7-1, 0.88) with Lackey pitching two of those games.
The Sox have won eight of nine and at 10-11 are heading in the right direction.
“We dug ourselves a hole. Now we’re trying to dig out of it, Francona said. “It’s kind of like a hitter with a low batting average but feels good about himself. We’re starting to do some things better.”
As Lackey rebounds, Carl Crawford is 7 for 27 (.259) with three extra-base hits and five RBIs in his last seven games. He belted his first Red Sox homer today. Adrian Gonzalez is starting to heat up, too.
"We were fine when we were 2-10," Dustin Pedroia said. "But it looked bad."
It looks a lot better now.
Thanks to everybody for reading today. I have a red-eye flight home and then a few days off. But we'll keep the blog heated up.