One of the biggest question marks surrounding the 2013 edition of the Boston Red Sox was the quality of their starting rotation. And one of the biggest questions about that question was the health and effectiveness of John Lackey. Question answered.
Lackey turned in another masterful performance on his road back from Tommy John surgery Tuesday night, holding San Diego to one run on six hits through eight innings, lifting Boston to its 51st win of the season against 34 losses for the American League’s best record. The win pushed Boston to 17 games above .500 for the first time this season. It was Lackey’s fifth win in his last six starts, and minus one mistake against Jesus Guzman in the seventh inning, San Diego would have had a goose egg on Tuesday’s scoreboard.
Koji Uehara got three quick outs in the top of the ninth, two on strike outs, to preserve Lackey’s impressive outing in rebounding from a blown save in his last trip to the mound. Uehara has now saved 5 games in 7 opportunities for Boston after being pressed into the closer’s role.
The Red Sox broke open a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth against a San Diego southpaw rookie, loading the bases on a single by Ortiz, walk to Mike Napoli and a base on balls to Jarrod Saltalamachia. Recent call up Brandon Snyder made San Diego starter Robbie Erlin pay for the free passes by drilling a stiff line drive off the left center wall that scored all three base runners. Snyder was thrown out on the play trying to stretch his run producing double into a triple, but staking Boston to a 3-0 lead.
Boston added a fourth run in the sixth inning when Jonny Gomes rapped a wall ball double, and scored on a Jose Iglesias’ second single of the night. He was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double after Gomes had scored.
San Diego broke up Lackey’s shut out in the top of the seventh when Jesus Guzman lifted a fly ball to left that kissed the top of Monster and was ruled a solo home run, making it Boston 4, San Diego 1.
Lackey finished the night with a pitching line of IP 8 R 1 ER 1 BB 1 K 6 H 6 PC 103, and it marked his longest start of the season.
Tuesday night’s win moved Boston’s home record to 29-16 on the year and improved the Bosox to 5-2 this year in Inter-League play. Boston sends southpaw Jon Lester at 8-4 to the hill Wednesday for game two against the San Diego Padres who counter with right-hander Edinson Volquez who comes in at an even 6-6 on the season.
In closing out the month of June with 50 victories, this marked the fifth time in franchise history Boston has posted 50 wins by the end of June. The all-time franchise record by the Red Sox dates back to 1978 when Boston posted 52 wins by the end of June. At their current winning percentage the Red Sox are on pace to win 96 games this season.
Ellsbury’s third-inning single stretched his hitting streak to 12 games and was promptly followed by his 33rd stolen base of the season. David Ortiz’s first inning double marked the 500th of his career and places him fifth on the double’s list among active players.
Injured Clay Buchholz still has no timetable for his return to action in dealing with a neck/collarbone issue, although the team has changed his throwing program to include intermittent tossing between 90 and 120 feet. General Manager Ben Cherington also indicates that as the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline approaches, the Red Sox may not be as active in the market as previously thought. The team said it thinks it has some “internal” solutions to roster areas that are of concern. Those options include getting Buchholz back on track and back in the starting rotation, sharing closer duties between Andrew Bailey and Koji Uehara, more shuffling of roles in the bullpen, and the possibility of Will Middlebrooks re-emerging as the team’s starting third baseman. Since his demotion to Triple-A, more at-bats and more time to heal an early season rib cage injury are proving beneficial for Middlebrooks who has seemingly found his stroke again. Should he be promoted back to the big league club it would again cause a log-jam of talented infielders and the Sox then decide to stay deep for a stretch run or perhaps deal either Middlebrooks or Stephen Drew. It’s a certainty glove wizard Jose Iglesias will remain in the lineup for the time being, hitting close to .400 on the season. Drew, who suffered a hamstring pull several days ago will probably not see action during the Padres series according to manager John Farrell.
Former Bosox utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco, traded to San Diego when the play of Jose Iglesias made for a crowded Red Sox infield, had an interesting night against his former teammates, collecting a single and two stolen bases on the evening. He entered the game hitting .255 since being traded for a player to be named later and has been starting at short stop for the Padres.
- Lackey leads BoSox over Padres 4-1 (boston.com)
- Flyin’ Hawaiin lifts Bosox to 50th win (baseballtrashtalkin.org)