John Lackey may have strung together his best outing in a Red Sox uniform in his last start when he shut out the Twins over nine innings.
Monday may go down as one of his worst since missing all of the 2012 season.
After pitching well through the first three innings of the ballgame, Lackey completed imploded in the fourth inning as the Mariners lit him up for six runs in that frame alone before he was pulled from the ballgame.
Given a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Lackey allowed a single to Endy Chavez to lead off the game, but the Sox defense turned a 4-6-3 double play on a grounder by James Jones. Robinson Cano grounded out to set the Mariners down in order.
After striking out Kyle Seager to start the bottom of the second, Lackey threw a 0-1 fastball to Logan Morrison, who absolutely crushed it for a no-doubt solo shot that tied the game 1-1. Lackey came back and struck out Mike Zunino, then got Dustin Ackley to ground out to shortstop to end the inning.
A 1-2-3 third frame, including an impressive barehanded play by Stephen Drew, got Lackey through three at just 36 pitches.
Then the trouble started.
With the Sox up 2-1 in the fourth, Cano hit a ground-rule double with one out, then scored on a Seager single to right field to tie the game. Morrison then singled through the shift, which advanced Seager to third.
Lackey walked Zunino to load the bases, then battled with Ackley in a 13-pitch at bat that saw Ackley hit a ground ball to first base. Napoli fielded the ball to his right and his momentum carried him into the throw at second base, where they got the put, but Lackey didn’t cover first and Seattle took a 3-2 lead.
Lackey then threw a wild pitch during Brad Miller’s at bat that scored Morrison to make it 4-2. Lackey then walked Miller and allowed a single to Willie Bloomquist to load the bases again. Chavez hit a gapper that got over Brock Holt’s head in right for a bases clearing triple that put Seattle up 7-2 and ended Lackey’s night.
Chris Capuano came in and retired James Jones on a bunt bid to mercifully end the inning. Lackey’s final line on the night was 3 2/3 innings pitched, giving up seven runs on seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Sitting at 36 pitches entering the inning, Lackey had thrown 74 pitches by the time John Farrell came out to make the change.
Something didn’t seem quite right with Lackey when he came out of the game; he appeared to be limping on the play where he missed covering first and when he walked off the mound. It remains to be seen whether Lackey may have injured himself during the 13-pitch at bat against Ackley, which could be an explanation for the bizarre way in which the game completely fell apart for the Sox starter seemingly without warning.