The Red Sox didn't get the prettiest night from John Lackey, or make the most of all their offensive opportunities, but three big hits proved the difference Friday night as Boston picked up the win in Seattle.
Things began on a sour note for John Lackey and the Red Sox as four straight Mariners reached base to start the game. All three hits involved came on the ground, including a swinging bunt by Franklin Guttierez, but the runs counted all the same. Still, for having loaded the bases with zero outs and then given up a hit, Lackey managed to escape with relatively little damage, giving up just the pair of runs in the first.
The Sox bounced back quickly in the second. David Ortiz led off the frame with a picture perfect home run to dead center field, signifying to Blake Beavan that Friday's game would not be quite so easy as the first time he faced the Sox. Carl Crawford followed him up with a line drive single to right, and then moved to third on a ground ball that exploded into the face of Justin Smoak. It was a scary moment as the Mariner's first baseman, fresh off the disabled list, hit the ground; he would leave the game with a fractured nose. When play resumed, the Sox had men on first and third, and quickly made good on the situation, with Mike Aviles bringing in Carl Crawford on a sacrifice fly and leaving things knotted 2-2.
It did not take long for the Mariners to return fire, again loading the bases in the second with another three hits and a walk and putting up a third run in the second. They would strike again in the fourth as Mike Carp brought in his third run of the game, doubling home Franklin Guttierez.
It was in the fifth that momentum shifted. Jed Lowrie took an inside pitch and hooked it very deep into the standsdespite hitting from the left side of the plate, bringing the Red Sox back. Given that Lowrie wasn't even supposed to be starting--both Marco Scutaro and Kevin Youkilis missed the game due to back soreness--that's quite the solid contribution for a guy who once again needs to prove himself.
Now trailing by just a run, the Sox got exactly what they needed in the bottom of the frame: a 1-2-3 inning from John Lackey. Jarrod Saltalamacchia led off the sixth with a single, Josh Reddick hit the third Sox home run of the game even harder than Lowrie's (it bounced off the scoreboard above where Jed's landed) and suddenly the Sox were on top. Another 1-2-3 frame from Lackey set up the bullpen for three scoreless innings, with Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon looking typically impressive in wrapping up the Sox' win.
The upshot of all this--besides a 2-game lead in the East thanks to the Rays--is a mixed bag. On the one hand is the shaky outing from John Lackey which makes it that much harder to buy into the second-half new leaf we've been seeing of late. On the other hand there's the production coming from two young guys whose performances down the stretch could answer some of the last lingering questions on the team.
For now, though, it's a win. Which is usually enough when it's one of these damned west coast red-eyes.