Lackey throws another gem, Sox rotation coming together


The way the season started for John Lackey, no one would have expected him to be the Boston Red Sox stopper – but if he keeps pitching like he did on Friday night, that’s exactly what he will be.

Lackey dominated Terry Francona’s Cleveland Indians, going seven strong, and Mike Carp provided all the offense Lackey would need with a second inning three-run blast into the people in right field as the Sox stomped the Tribe 8-1 at rainy Fenway Park in Boston one night after Ryan Dempster and two other got shelled by the Tribe’s potent offense.

Rain seems to be a common theme for Lackey’s turn in the rotation, which is becoming more and more solidified as the big right hander continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery and, perhaps just as importantly, he’s getting run support from the hot and cold Red Sox offense.

Carp’s big fly came with one out and after David Ortiz drew a full count walk and Mike Napoli singled to center, giving Lackey the production at the plate that would carry him to his second consecutive victory and his third of the season against four losses – also lowering his ERA to a sterling 2.72.

Lackey’s two hit, eight strike out performance actually paled in comparison from his last start, a six inning, one hit, five K gem that was interrupted by a cloud burst in Minneapolis and almost wasted by the tandem of Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa who provided plenty of anxiety in their single innings of work before finding their groove and striking out Twins’ batters to retire the side…

…but there was no such anxiety in Friday’s night’s win, as Uehara and the normally sandbagging Alfredo Aceves providing two hit relief, both allowing the leadoff batter to reach base only to close down the the next three in order – the excitable Uehara seeking out Shane Victorino to give him a taste of the five on his fragile frame after getting the last out of the eighth…

So Lackey’s consistency is giving the Sox starting rotation the look of a better than average battery, with Felix Doubront’s arm out of the morgue and pair of aces Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz – Ryan Dempster’s struggles notwithstanding – and realizing that there will be nights that not everything goes as planned mixed into the equation…

…and the bullpen doing the job in spots, though long relief is a work in progress to say the least – as is trying to find consistency at the plate – this Red Sox team looks like they’re in this thing for the long haul and right now are just a game behind the New York Yankees for the AL East lead.

The same weather conditions persist for this afternoon’s matchup at Fenway, with Lester going up against old nemesis, former Tampa Bay-thorn-in-the-side Scott Kazmir for the Tribe – so if the game goes off in the gusty winds and spotty showers, one has to like Boston’s chances of catching up with the Yanks in the standings.