Posts Tagged ‘David OrtizAdrian Gonzalez’

I definitely did not see that coming at all.  If you told me before last night’s game that Lackey was going to pitch like that, if it weren’t for the hit count I would have insisted you had him confused with Beckett.  I would have said there’s no way Lackey could randomly hurl an outing like that.  And, again, I am happy to say that I would have been totally wrong.

Out of nowhere, Lackey dominated.  He just dominated.  He just pitched really, really well like it was no big deal.  He gave up only one run on only eight hits (for him, that’s low), striking out four and walking none in seven innings.  He threw 101 pitches, sixty-eight for strikes.

Wait.  What?

Seriously.  He figured out how to be awesome again overnight.  I don’t know if this will last.  I don’t know if he’ll turn into Dice-K and have a cluster of great outings followed by a cluster of abysmal outings.  All I know is that a few of his preceding starts weren’t as bad as some of the others we’ve seen from him, and now we’ve witnessed a sliver of glory.

For strikes, his worst pitch was his cutter; he only threw it for strikes fifty-six percent of the time.  There have been times when he’d only throw his best pitch for strikes fifty-six percent of the time.  But he rolled out his arsenal and executed all of his pitches precisely and effectively.  His changeup and curveball were unhittable.  His slider and four-seam were baffling.  (He only threw about one or two two-seams the during entire game.) Of all 101 of his pitches, only seventeen were fastballs; he has thrown a higher percentage of offspeed pitches this season than he has in any other season of his career.  You might say that that’s been his problem, but as you can see, as long as the offspeed pitches are working, there’s no problem in sight.  So he just has to get them to work consistently.

He was also randomly efficient.  He gave up twenty-two pitches in the first, when he allowed his run; a single, two steals, and another single later, we were down by one before Ellsbury even stepped into the batter’s box.  But I’ll take that any day over being down by, like, seven.  After that, he just cruised.  His second inning was one-two-three, beginning with strikeout on a curveball.  His third inning, his best by far, was one-two-three on just nine pitches.  In the fourth, he faced one above the minimum.  In the fifth, he faced five.  In the sixth, four.  In the seventh, four with two strikeouts, one on the curveball and the other on the changeup.

Morales took the ball in the eighth, and the irony is that we probably all thought that, for one day at least, if we didn’t have to worry about Lackey, we certainly wouldn’t have to worry about the bullpen.  That was when Morales, with two out in the inning, allowed a three-run home run and another double before Bard took the ball for the last out in the eighth.  Paps took the ball in the ninth; three up, three down on seven pitches for the save.

Thanks to run support from the lineup, Lackey walked away with an incredibly well-deserved win and has won three consecutive starts for the first time since June 5.  This is also the fifth straight game in which he has issued at most one walk.  Considering the fact that the overall percentage of the pitches he’s thrown this season for strikes is the lowest it’s ever been in his career, I think the solution is simply to limit the walks.  That will increase his efficiency and decrease his fatigue, which means he’ll be able to pitch deeper into the game.  He already gives up a ton of hits, so limiting the walks won’t exacerbate the baserunner problem, and of course throwing less balls is usually a function of throwing more strikes.  So I think limiting walks is a good place to start.

We wasted no time in getting his allowed run back.  In the bottom of the first, Pedroia singled, moved to second on a groundout by Gonzalez and third on a passed ball, and scored on a single by Youk.

In the second, Ellsbury continued his massive power tear by leading it off with a home run over the bullpens.  At times like this, you really get to see how smart a hitter he is.  The ball was low, and he stayed back until just the right time, when he unleashed for his seventh dinger this month alone.  Jacoby Ellsbury is officially a five-tool guy.  His sixteen home runs ranks him third on the team, three behind Papi and only one behind Gonzalez.  I never thought I’d see that either.  But his awesome running catch in center field to end the fourth was classic Ellsbury.  So was Reddick’s sliding catch in right for the first out in the fifth.

Also worth mentioning in terms of defense is Youk’s throw to first in the second.  Youk knocked down a ground ball but recovered perfectly and fired in time.  And of course his barehanded catch in the on-deck circle of Gonzalez’s foul ball in the fifth.

We didn’t score again until the seventh, but we made up for it in a big way with a five-spot.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Gonzalez.  The beauty of this lineup is that, if the bases are loaded, there are several guys you’d want up there.  Gonzalez is certainly near on that list.  All he did was single, but it brought in two.  Youk doubled in two more and moved to third on a throwing error.  And then Papi singled in Youk.  That was it for us for the rest of the game, but even with Morales’s fail, it was enough.

Mike Lowell visited the park before the game; he insisted that Pedroia would get four hits in the game, but I don’t think anyone would complain about his three-for-three performance.  His average is now .299.  On June 4, his average was .239.  Wow.

The final score was 7-4.  We put a man on base during each of Felix Hernandez’s innings.  We have the best record in July in the Major Leagues.  We all know that Seattle is cold as ice right now, but I still think Lackey’s outing is a big deal.  It may have been what he needed to figure some things out, or maybe he just needed a boost in his confidence.  Either way, a win is a win, and Lackey more than got it.  He pitched the way he should have pitched against a team like the Mariners.  Actually, he pitched the way he should have pitched against any team in baseball.  The key now will be for him to do it consistently.  I can’t say whether that will happen for sure, but either way it’s hard to dispute the fact that last night was pretty great.

AP Photo

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