In all the years that John Lackey’s come to Arlington, the Rangers have never been the greatest hosts. From the moment Ian Kinsler smacked Lackey’s first pitch of the night over the fence in left field, it was obvious things wouldn’t be much different this time around. Lackey went gave up three runs on three hits and four walks, never getting a chance to get remotely comfortable in a 5-1 Red Sox loss.
Mitch Moreland and Craig Gentry both went 2 for 4. Gentry’s two-run home run in the eight gave was insurance as the Rangers pulled off back-to-back wins In two games the Rangers have outhit the Red Sox 28-13.
With the win, the Rangers are a game back for the best record in the majors.
End of the seventh, Rangers 3, Red Sox 1: More of the usual from Junichi Tazawa. After giving up a leadoff single to Elvis Andrus, he struck out the side.
Between tonight and the two-on, two-out hold on Thursday in Toronto, he's bounced back nicely since blowing that save to the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
End of the sixth, Rangers 3, Red Sox 1: John Lackey's night comes to an end after five innings. He gave up three runs on six hits with four strikeouts.
His fastball hung around 92 mph. A 33-pitch fourth inning made life difficult for him.
Still, it may not feel like it, but it's the best outing he's had in Arlington since 2008. He had given up a combined 17 earned runs in his last three starts in Arlington going back to September 2009, and he got knocked out of a May 2009 start after just an inning.
End of the fifth, Rangers 3, Red Sox 1: In his previous three starts, Alexi Ogando had given up 10 earned runs (12 all together). He was struggling with commanding his fastball, his bread and butter, and while there was reason to be concerned, neither Ogando nor Rangers manager Ron Washington panicked.
Instead, they worked on his delivery between starts and after going seven innings against the Angels on April 23, Ogando started to feel like he was figuring things out.
From the Dallas Morning News:
It was a dramatic change for Ogando, particularly after he lasted just 2 1/3 innings in Chicago in his previous start. Ogando could not get the fastball down in that game and paid a hefty price. In between starts, the Rangers tried to make an adjustment to his delivery.
“We worked pretty hard to iron it out,” pitching coach Mike Maddux said. “It just took some reps to get it down. Once he found the third pitch [the change-up] that looked like a fastball, I think it made it easier to make the fastball come into play. It was a big step in the right direction.”
He's allowed one run on five hits in six innings with four strikeouts, including punching out Jarrod Saltalamacchia on three pitches to end the inning.
End of the fourth, Rangers 3, Red Sox 1: Two hits, three walks and a Will Middlebrooks error made it a tough inning for the Sox.
John Lackey walked Adrian Beltre with one out, gave up a single to AJ Pierzynski, got a fly ball from Nelson Cruz then walked Mitch Moreland to load the bases.
He could have gotten out of the inning after getting Craig Gentry to bounce one to Middlebrooks at third, but Middlebrooks's throw pulled Mike Napoli off the bag at first.
Middlebrooks had a hard time another throw in the first inning, when his throw on a two-out Adrian Beltre ground ball pulled Napoli down the line and Napoli could barely try to make a tag.
It's Middlebrook's third error in two nights. Beyond that, it was a long inning for Lackey, who threw 33 pitches. There's something about this ballpark.
End of the third, Rangers 1, Red Sox 1: For the most part, teams have the impression that they can run on Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He hadn't caught any of the first 12 runners that tried to steal on him.
Then, Leonys Martin came around. With one out, he was so earner to run on Saltalamacchia that he took off for second base on the first pitch.
When the dust from his slide settled he was shocked to see he being punched out. He had good reason. Replays clearly showed he was safe. But he still goes in the books as the first runner Saltalamacchia's thrown out all year.
End of the second, Rangers 1, Red Sox 1: Daniel Nava knots it up with an RBI single. The inning got started with yet another David Ortiz hit.
Aside from continuing his scorching start (he's hit safely in 12 straight games now to start the season and his overall streak is now at a career-high 24 games going back to last July), the base running was something you won't see every day.
Ortiz had been on second twice before this season when a single was hit and pumped the brakes at third. This time, he made the turn.
Last season, he scored from second eight times on singles, held up six times and was cut down once.
End of the first, Rangers 1, Red Sox 0: Well, that was fast. Ian Kinsler smacked John Lackey's first pitch over the left-field fence for his sixth homer of the season.
It's the 28th time Kinsler's led off a game with a homer. He's actually tagged John Lackey for two of them.
You can see the other in this shaky April 2, 2011 YouTube video from the Rangers 12-5 win over the Sox.
On the brightside, there are three other pitchers who've given up two leadoff homers to Kinsler.
Pregame: A one-run, six-inning outing last Saturday was a nice building block for John Lackey after returning from a biceps strain. But tonight he's shooting for his first win in ballpark that's been a house of horrors most of his career.
In 18 career starts at the Ballpark in Arlington, Lackey has a career 6.68 ERA. He's faced the Rangers more than any other active pitcher (36 times), but the results haven't been the prettiest. His 6.16 ERA against the Rangers is his highest against any American League team.
All this a day after the Rangers went on an 18-hit spree against the Sox.