Circling the Wagons Doesn’t Help Lackey Ward Off Tribe Attack

On July 10th, this site downgraded John Lackey to neutral, arguing that his wild inconsistency and propensity to get hit hard could no longer support a rating of outperform. Well, since that time, Lackey made us look like fools as he posted three nice starts in a row. But last night, after ripping through the AL West, John Lackey returned to Earth and demonstrated why this site did not act hasty when it lowered the kibosh nearly a month ago.

Boy did things fall apart quickly last night because for 3.2 innings, Lackey was everything the Sox thought he would be and more …. striking out six Indians, walking none and giving up just two hits. And then, in the blink of an eye, Lackey fell apart like a poorly capitalized investment bank. One second he was dealing and the next he was digging ….. a hole from which the Sox would not recover. The casualty report is as follows …. From two outs in the fourth until he was lifted with one out in the Sixth, Lackey gave up SEVEN hits, FIVE walks and SIX runs. So in order to get five outs, and one came on a play at the plate, Lackey surrendered TWELVE bad outcomes against a team that is 12th in AL scoring.  That is not the way it is supposed to work.

Two stats on Lackey are telling. First, he has been brutal this season with two outs. That reveals something about his guts and his concentration.  And two, he has been terrible the second time around the lineup. That tells me something about his stuff, or lack thereof. Add them together and you have a pitcher who just seems to come unglued, particularly in the middle innings AND when it looks like the coast is almost clear.

Now in Lackey’s defense, he had thrown well in three consecutive starts and hiccups do happen. But with the Sox margin of error approaching zero, they simply cannot afford outings where their pitcher sticks them in a five-run hole against a woeful offense. Yes, the Sox rallied to make it exciting and if one of many “what ifs” had gone the other way, the Sox may have won that game. But the breaks were not with Boston last night and they laid another loss on the table against a team they should have beat. Needless to say, the Sox can’t afford any more of those this week.

Other Thoughts:

* Adrian Beltre is a beast (two more bombs last night) and I am begining to think the Sox should be aggressive bidders to re-sign him this Winter. I know, buyer beware as he stuck it to the Ms after a big contract year like the one he is having. But he has RH power that the Sox don’t have much of at the MLB level. An internal replacement is at least two years off. Beltre is a great baserunner. A great fielder. Seems to have a great attitude. Has proven he can play in Boston. Given the choice between Beltre and Martinez, I take the former.

* Thoughts go out to Carlos Santana. He has a big future ahead of him and it’s good to hear that the initial thought is he didn’t shred his knee to bits. For the record, that was one of the most gruesome things I have ever seen on a baseball field and I still can’t beleive he hung on to the ball. If Santana were a marine, that would have earned him the Navy Cross.

* Apropos of Something: Terry Francona sent Victor Martinez on a full count in the second with one out and Ryan Kalish at bat. That is a not so subtle glimpse into the confidence Francona has in his new left-fielder. I’ll tell you one thing, Francona doesn’t do that with Drew, Cameron or even Ellsbury.

* Three hits for Kalish. Another hit for Nava. Josh Reddick was 4-5 at Pawtucket. The future of the Sox outfield hasn’t looked this bright since Burks and Greenwell were coming up.

* Last night was heavy on what ifs …..

1)      What if Scutaro hadn’t tried to tag on a 160 foot fly ball?

2)      What if Kalish had been held at third and not thrown out – with one out – in that gruesome collision.

3)      And what if Franocna had stuck with MDC instead of bringing in a lefty who hasn’t proven real successful in getting lefties out. (Cheat Sheet – Choo rifled Richardson’s first pitch to right to score two.)  By the way, am I the only one who has heard Terry Francona tout MDC’s unique ability to pitch to lefties. So how come he shied away from his boy and went with Richardson last night?  

* There is a lot of scorn out there right now for third base coach Tim Bogar today and I will speak up in his defense. First off, Scutaro tagged on his own so you can’t pin that on Bogar. And two, Bogar has taken a bunch of crap for sending guys but who can blame him after watching how poorly the Sox have hit with men in scoring position of late.

* Two thoughts on Youkilis’ thumb. 1) If he has to go on the DL, any hopes for a wildcard rally are over. 2) If Youkilis is going to miss a few games, it is possible that Mike Lowell might sneak his way onto the roster and get a proper Fenway sendoff.

* The gymnastics that the Sox are going through to keep Patterson on the roster and keep Lowell off boggles my mind. Patterson is 13-58 (0-2) with 20 strikeouts in Boston and if you take out his two three-hit games, he is just  7-49 (.142). Yet for some reason, it seems like the Sox would rather offer free admission than let this guy go. What they are saving him for is totally beyond me. (More on this in a seperate post.)

* So that looks like a season-ender, or at least a month-ender for Mike Cameron. And that means Boston’s opening day CF will most likely end the season with 48 games played and the opening day leftfielder will log no more than 60 games. In a normal year, those 175 missed games should have been enough to appease the baseball gods but evidently, the Gods had a different plan for the 2010 Red Sox.     

* Why was Cash the substitute for Youkilis? Doesn’t it make more sense to keep Martinez behind the plate and use Lowrie or Patterson at second and Hall at first? Guess not, as Francona seemed to think it was a good idea to put the worst hitter on the roster, pitchers included, into the three hole.  The more I think about this, the angrier I get.   

* FARM REPORT:  Josh Reddick who erupted last night with four hits, including two doubles and a home run.  Stuck at the Bucket  while his buddies Ryan and Nava feast in Boston, Reddick has gone crazy this month, and following last night, he is now 18 for his last 42 with six doubles, a triple and two bombs. Since a god awful May, Reddick’s numbers have been improving and most reviews have stressed that he has played better than his numbers suggest. Well, things are now turning in a big way for Reddick and he has played himself right back onto the radar screen.

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