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What's wrong with Lackey?

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  May 11, 2011 11:20 PM

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TORONTO - John Lackey doesn't know what to make of it, and nobody knows what to make of Lackey.

The veteran righty was befuddled and obviously in distress following a 9-3 loss to the Blue Jays. He allowed five runs in the seventh inning that turned a 4-3 game into a blowout.

"Everything went wrong that could go wrong," he said. "That's pretty much the story of the whole damn year."

Lackey, who was charged with nine runs, is now 2-5 with an 8.01 earned run average.

However, there might be more to the story than his performance on the field. He did offer one morsel about a possible personal issue he's going through when he told the media, "Everything (bleeps) in my life right now to be honest with you."

When the Globe's Michael Vega asked him if everything was OK, Lackey didn't want to elaborate, indicating it was a personal matter. Lackey revealed in spring training that his wife, Krista, was battling breast cancer.

Lackey has had some good starts, some bad. He was one out away from preserving the one-run deficit when he walked David Cooper to force in the fifth Jays run. He then allowed a two-run double by John McDonald.

Terry Francona kept Lackey in longer than he normally would have because he admitted he was trying to stay away from Matt Albers, Daniel Bard, and Alfredo Aceves, who normally pitch when the Sox have the lead. Francona wanted to give all of them proper rest, but in the process Lackey was pummeled and threw 118 pitches. Tim Wakefield came in and allowed a two-run single to Rajai Davis.

Francona said he kept Lackey in to face McDonald because he's had success against him.

"Everybody's had success with him in the past," Lackey said of McDonald. "You can't give up hits like that to him when you have other guys in that lineup who can hurt you."

Lackey lamented, "I don't know what the hell happened tonight. I threw the ball way better than last start. I don't know."

Lackey said of his hit-or-miss season, "I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I don't know."

Francona evaluated Lackey this way:

"The line score is not gonna look good in the end because of the seventh. We get a four-pitch walk, gets guys on a couple of outs, and then we cant finish it off. That really kind of skewed the line. He had the ability to get back in counts with the breaking ball but didn't really have the put-away breaking ball and left it over the middle a few times.

"We get to 4-3, it looks like we have a chance, and they come out in the seventh and spread it out and it changes the whole game. We had Wake up. We were going to go to Wake and we didn't want to go to Bard, Albers, and Aceves and that group of guys. I wanted to give him a chance with McDonald - he'd had success against him. Bringing Wake in with the bases loaded, that's probably not the easiest task in the world."

Francona acknowledged that on this night because of the bullpen situation, "there wasn't a place to bail him out."

Notes: Major League sources indicate the Red Sox would have to offer Bengie Molina a sizeable amount of money - around $2 million - for him to come out of retirement. ... Keep an eye on Carl Crawford's left foot. He was limping before and after the game. ... Jacoby Ellsbury's 19-game hitting streak ended. ... Wakefield became the oldest player to appear in a game for the Red Sox at 44 years, 282 days.

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