Leading off an inning, guys are hitting a mundane.239 off of him. And with one out, opposing batters are slugging a pedestrian .366 off of him. But for some reason, with two outs, John Lackey becomes a punching bag for major league hitters, surrendering a slash of .340/.418/.469. In other words, with two outs, John Lackey turns the league into one giant Joe Mauer.
In some ways, John Lackey is like the New England Patriot defense since about mid-way through the 2007 season. Good on first down. Good on second down. But terrible on third and as a result, he can’t get off the field and into the dugout.
Yesterday, it was more of the same as Lackey had an excellent game going through 4.2. Yeah, he gave up a couple runs in the second, but he got six out of seven hitters in the third and fourth innings and was two up and two down in the fifth. And then , like the Pats are prone to do, Lackey let the Yankees convert third down after third down. With two outs …… Single. Single. Single. Single. And before you know it, the Sox are down two runs and in a bind.
Included in this morass was a frustrating moment where Lackey certainly let his ego get the best of him. With runners on 1-3 and Cano at the plate, Lackey could have – and should have – pitched around the firey-hot second baseman. I’m sure I was not alone in thinking that Cano was going to square up anything Lackey threw and lo and behold, Cano smacked a poorly located fastball to right-field. That clearly was not a matchup that Lackey held the advantage but rather than putting his eggs in the Posada basket, Lackey tried to man-up with Cano and got burned. It may not have made a difference as Posada followed with a hit, but I thought this entire sequence revealed plenty about Lackey. And what it told me is Lackey often losses his concentration and when this happens, he doesn’t have the “stuff” to finish opposing teams off. Sure, he might get away with it against Oakland or California, but against big teams, with professional hitters, it is a problem. And yesterday, it turned the game bigtime.
Following Lackey’s stumble in the fifth, it felt like the Sox were just going through the motions. CC Sabathia had something to do with it as he controlled the Sox after the second inning, but it’s worth pointing out that the Sox just don’t have that much firepower against good lefties when Youkilis and Pedroia aren’t in the lineup. That is because Ortiz is hopeless and really should be slipped down the lineup when southpaws are pitching and Drew is a total basket case. In fact, Drew is so bad against lefties that it made me wonder why Kalish was not out there in his stead.
Regardless, the Sox kind of rolled over mid-way through yesterday, perhaps content with the results from Friday night. And with Tampa losing earlier, there was no knife to their throat as it seems there has been for a month. So yesterday wasn’t the end of the world. And today and tomorrow they have the matchups in their favor. A split won’t be the end of the world but boy, it would be nice to pick these next two up.
POINTS OF INTEREST:
* I liked what I saw out of Felix Doubront yesterday. I am not thrilled with this move to the pen, fearing that it might stunt his development as a starter. But I am confident that he will be a useful addition. God knows he can’t hurt.
* Carlos Delgado? There is throwing a bunch of wet noodles at the wall and hoping some stick and then there is this. Delgado is like a big cold zitti shell and good luck having that stick to a wall.
* Marco Scutaro looks to me like he needs a day off. I suspect that might come on Monday with Hall getting the start at second and Lowrie picking up the start at short.
* I still can’t get over this. According to the Fox broadcast yesterday, the Irish-American Baseball Hall of Fame inducted a couple of guys this year ….. Tim McCarver and Brian Cashman. That isn’t quite up there with the Rock n Roll HOF’s dismal 1993 where the Doors and CCR gained admittance, but it’s close. And it has me thinking that the Jews have overtaken the Irish when it comes to contributions to the game of baseball.
* The Sox seem to have caught a break with pitching matchups in this Yankee series but that will even out a bit in Toronto as they will face the Blue Jays best. However, it is possible that they may miss Cliff Lee AND CJ Wilson down in Texas. That would be helpful although it depends in part of what the Rangers do this week. As it stands, it looks like Lee will be pushed up to face the Yanks on Wed and that would keep him out of the weekend series against Boston. Cross your fingers.
* Earlier this year, I had thought that Brett Gardner’s excellent play might change the Yankees thinking on Carl Crawford. Well, since the first week in May, Gardner is hitting .262 and has an OBP of .362. Which is fine. After all, a dozen teams would love to have a leadoff hitter who can get on base like that and steal 40 bases. But these are the Yankees and I’m not sure Gardner’s effort has been quite good enough to convince the team to let Crawford fly on by.
And finally …. THE FAMR REPORT: It was kind of a gloomy night on the farm as most of the higher-level prospects got shut down. Yeah, Reddick and Anderson got hits, but Rizzo got stuffed, Lavarnway got shut out and really …. A night where Reddick gets held to one hit is kind of a disappointment these days. So the name worth mentioning is Jeremy Hazelbaker, who went 3-4 with a bomb and four RBI for Greenville last night. And of note, Hazelbaker also stole his 50th base of the season. Now Hazelbaker is almost 23 and still toiling in lower A ball so it’s hard to call him a prospect but he has tore the cover off the ball since July 1. And surprisingly, a Greenville outfielder was promoted to Salem yesterday and it wasn’t Hazelbaker. So it’s hard to get too excited over this guy. That being said, he can run and is at least worth keeping an eye on next season in Salem or Portland.