Still no consensus on why Lackey is pitching so well lately. The thrill of the playoff chase? I wouldn’t call it much of a chase. Bedard? Maybe. Honestly, who knows? I’d love to find out, but I’d rather watch him hurl good start after good start than speculate about why he’s hurling them.
Each and every one of his starts lately has shown slow but conspicuously steady improvement over the last one. Last night, he pitched six innings and threw 108 pitches, sixty-six for strikes. He gave up four runs on ten hits while walking two and striking out three. So he was a little bit more efficient last night, even if his command is not where it should be. You obviously have to adjust for the fact that he was facing the Mariners, against whom any top Triple-A pitcher should be able to win with flying colors, but this is Lackey we’re talking about. Anything to keep him putting the right foot forward and boosting confidence.
His pitch count was inflated by three markedly inefficient innings; other than that it was smooth sailing. He allowed at least one run in each of those innings. He threw twenty-three pitches in the first and allowed two on a single, he threw twenty-six pitches in the second and allowed one on a single, and he threw twenty-four pitches in the fourth and allowed one on a double. The rest of his outing was smooth sailing. Twelve pitches each in the third and fifth, and only nine in the sixth. In the fifth and sixth he faced the minimum. He was removed after allowing a single on two pitches to start the seventh.
All in all, not bad. Our lineup should be expected to handle four runs, especially against the Mariners. We did.
Papi led off the second with a dinger to center on a fastball. A straight shot over everything. It was his fourth in our last seven games. It was massive. Then Crawford singled, moved to third on a single by Salty, and scored on a sac fly by Aviles.
We had runners on second and third with one out in the third but did nothing with it. We, and by “we” I obviously mean Lowrie, made up for that in the fifth. He led off the inning with a dinger to right, also on a fastball. It was his first lefty home run of the year. It was also massive. And it was a relief to see him be able to pull out all the stops on his swing. I think he’s healthy now.
Salty singled to open the sixth, and Reddick wanted in on the power party, so he shot one of his own to right on a fastball. That would be his sixth of the year. Also massive. Seriously. He did what every lefty is expected to do with a fastball down and in: he practically took the skin off it. Technically all he was doing was following instructions; the ball bounced off the glass of Safeco Field’s Hit It Here Café. I mean, that’s what he did.
We played some small ball after that, just for fun. Gonzalez doubled, moved to third on a sac bunt by Pedroia, and scored on a single by Papi.
Meanwhile, Morales held down the fort, Bard put on the finishing touches, and Paps got the save, and we won, 6-4.
Wow, Seattle. We batted without Youk and the hot-of-late Scutaro, both scratched due to back stiffness but nothing serious, and we still won. Our seventy-three and forty-four record is the best in the American League, and we are eighteen and nine since the All-Star break. We are just massive.