I was excited for Lackey’s first outing of the regular season. Lackey lost a ton of weight and looked great this spring. I think that I had reasons to believe that this season was going to be different for him, and we would see the John Lackey that we were supposed to have been seeing all along since we signed him.
In fact, his start was alright. He pitched a lot better during this start than he had during many of his other starts stretching back a number of years. I’d say that yesterday’s performance gave us a lot to look forward to, minus one extremely conspicuous downside.
Lackey gave up two runs on five hits while walking only one and striking out eight. He opened the fourth by inducing a lineout but then gave up a single followed by a home run on a cutter. That was basically his only mistake of the game. He was pretty alright for the rest of it. Those eight strikeouts were a pleasure to watch; I can’t remember the last time he paired low runs with high K’s. His first K of the season was called on a cutter, and his second ended with a swing through a nasty slider in the first. He had a one-two-three second ending in consecutive K’s, the first called on a fastball and the second swung on a curveball. He opened the third with a three-pitch swinging strikeout that ended with a fastball and ended it with a swinging strikeout that ended with a curveball. He ended the fourth with a three-pitch strikeout culminating in a nice fastball. And he opened the fifth with a three-pitch called strikeout ending with another fastball.
A grand total of six pitches made their appearance yesterday; his curveball, cutter, and four-seam were definitely the highlights. He threw a handful of impeccable sliders and barely any changeups that were decent at best. And his two-seam was just okay. He threw twenty-one pitches in the first and only improved from there, throwing thirteen in the second, eighteen in the third, fifteen in the fourth, and three in the fifth.
That brings us to the bad news. Lackey only pitched four and one-third inning. He threw a grand total of seventy-six pitches and had to be taken out due to a right biceps strain. The intensity of the strain will be determined as the appropriate medical procedures are undergone. Obviously we’re all rooting for it to be benign not only because he actually looked great out there but also because we can’t afford to lose one of our starters this early in the year.
Getting back to the game, Lackey was replaced by Aceves, who didn’t pitch well at all. Lackey got saddled with the loss, but it was Aceves who gave up more runs in less innings when his job as a reliever is to limit the damage. He pitched the remainder of the game and gave up three runs on three hits while walking two and striking out five. Two walks and one out into the sixth, Aceves threw a big mistake of a fastball, which was hit for a home run, and that was that.
If you ask me, the loss should be shared between Aceves and the offense, which did almost nothing yesterday. I mean that literally. We mustered two hits: Ellsbury doubled on the sixth pitch of the game, and Pedroia singled on the penultimate pitch of the game. Victorino walked twice, and Ciriaco walked once. That was the extent of our men on base. Ellsbury did pick up a steal in the first. And Ciriaco managed to make it all the way to third in the third, thanks to a wild pitch combined with a throwing error. But when Ellsbury reached on a fielder’s choice out, Ciriaco was thrown out at the plate. Ellsbury picked up another steal before Victorino walked, but Pedroia ended the inning with a popout. In six of nine innings, we went down in order. We sent five up in the third, our best chance to score. In the first and ninth, we sent up four.
The Jays didn’t even have to play the bottom of the ninth. We lost, five-zip.
In other news, the Bruins lost to the Habs, 2-1.