John Lackey's remarkable turnaround
Heading into the 2013 season, John Lackey was an afterthought to Red Sox Nation. Disappointing years in 2010 and 2011 were followed by a missed season in 2012 due to Tommy John surgery. That, along with pages and pages of negative publicly off the field, made some fans wonder whether Lackey’s huge contract was the worst in Red Sox history. But Lackey dedicated himself to getting in shape and proving everyone wrong in 2013. He quietly turned everything around, and despite a mediocre won-lost record, he became one of the most reliable pitchers on the staff. Lackey shook off a tough ALDS start against the Rays by throwing a game for the ages in Game 3 of the ALCS, outdueling former AL MVP Justin Verlander in Detroit. He pitched well enough to win Game 2 of the World Series, but the Red Sox defense and a lack of run support couldn’t get him the W.
With the Red Sox coming home with a 3-2 lead for Game 6, Lackey had a chance to complete the full-circle journey and go from being part of Red Sox infamy to part of Red Sox lore. He didn’t disappoint, throwing 6.2 innings and allowing just one run, leaving to a standing ovation that would have been impossible to imagine less than a year ago. The Sox offense finally came through for him, scoring six times for a comfortable 6-1 win and making Lackey the only pitcher in baseball history to start and win World Series-clinching games for two different teams.