The Angels made a business decision last summer when they traded for Tampa Bay lefty Scott Kazmir. The deal essentially meant that John Lackey’s tenure with the team was over. Rather than pay their ace to stay, they replaced him with a younger and cheaper player.
Lackey had spent eight years with the Angels, winning Game 7 of the World Series as a rookie then become a reliable front-line starter. That the Angels were so willing to let him walk was a slap in the face.
The fans at Angel Stadium added to it tonight, booing him when he took the mound. Fans have short memories, even in laid-back southern California. Lackey was a traitor, not the guy who pitched so well for so long.
“Nobody wants to get booed,” said Lackey, who was disappointed in the reaction.
But in the end, Lackey had the last word. He pitched into the eighth inning, left with a lead and watched the Red Sox hold on for a 4-2 win.
“The scoreboard talks the loudest,” he said after tossing 124 pitches.
As the Sox try and stay in contention, their starters are doing the heavy lifting. Lackey has allowed four earned runs in his last 22.1 innings. Tonight, Terry Francona was willing to let a tiring starter go back out for the eighth inning rather than take a chance with one of his gas can relievers.
Once Lackey allowed a run, in came Daniel Bard. How many pitches might Lackey have thrown had be not given up that run? 135? 140?
Presumably, Theo Epstein was watching the game with his cellphone in one hand trying to get a relief pitcher.
Meanwhile, add Jed Lowrie to the list of unexpected heroes this season. His two-run double in the seventh inning off Jered Weaver was the biggest hit of the game.
“I’m just happy to feel healthy,” said Lowrie, who was added to the roster last week after spending the entire season on the disabled list recovering from mononucleosis. “Just to play the game again and contribute is an added bonus.”
It was a big night for Darnell McDonald, who was 2 for 3 and drew a walk that started the rally in the seventh inning. How valuable has he been?
That’s four wins in the last six games for the Sox, who have Josh Beckett on the mound for the final game of the series and the trip.
As for J.D. Drew, he will not play in the game. After dealing with a right hamstring issue, now his left one hurts. The Sox will try and get him checked out before they return home. He doesn’t think he needs to be placed on the DL. But stay tuned.