Red Sox 8, Indians 1: John Lackey Dazzles in Seven-Inning Clinic

Jared Wickerham

John Lackey pitched seven phenomenal innings against Cleveland's hot offense, while Boston's offense gets to the Indians' pitchers early and often.

Looking at the pitching matchup before the game, one would be smart to give the advantage to the team sending Justin Masterson to the mound over the one trotting out John Lackey, despite the latter's early success. However, Lackey had a stellar outing, and while Masterson wasn't bad by any means, the Red Sox offense got to him and then thrashed Cleveland's bullpen to seal the victory.

Despite having to wait an extra 45 minutes to start the game due to rain, Lackey got off to a hot start, striking out two in a perfect 1-2-3 first inning, with both of his punch outs coming on the fastball. He continued that in the second, as he mixed in a walk but was bailed out with a double play that was started by a terrific diving stop by Dustin Pedroia. Through the first two innings Cleveland hitters had yet to put the ball in the air against Lackey.

In the bottom of the inning, Boston's offense would provide Lackey with all of the run support he'd need. After David Ortiz drew a leadoff walk, and Mike Napoli singled giving the Sox their first hit off Masterson of the night, Mike Carp walked to the plate. In the midst of a 1-22 slump, the left fielder reverted back to his slugging days of April with a mammoth three-run shot over the bullpens in right field, giving the Red Sox a lead they would hold for the rest of the game.

In the top half of the third, Lackey suffered through the only hiccups he would suffer through all game. The frame began with two straight singles for the Indians, after which Lackey settled down with two quick outs, including his third strikeout. Then, Jarrod Saltalamacchia pulled a classic-him, throwing a ball into left field with Mark Reynolds attempting to steal third. Reynolds would score on the play, only after he hesitated at third until Carp over ran the ball in left. The run would be the only allowed by Boston's starting pitcher, and it was unearned.

Lackey allowed a walk after Reynolds scored, then settled down by recording eight straight outs, two of which were strikeouts and the other six came on ground outs. After one more walk in the sixth, the last five batters he would face all got out, again with nobody hitting the ball in the air. This would end Lackey's masterful performance, after pitching seven innings with eight strikeouts, three walks, and just the two singles in the third inning. Of the 21 outs he recorded in the outing, just one left the infield. It was the second straight outing in which he didn't allow any earned runs.

Offensively, Boston's lineup more than held their own, tagging Masterson for five runs over 6+ innings, with six hits. Aside from Carp's bomb in the second, their only other extra-base hit was a double from Saltalamacchia, which was the last pitch Cleveland's starter would throw. After Masterson, it was two more former Red Sox, with Rich Hill getting shelled for three runs, one of which scored on a hit given up by old friend Matt Albers. Though Boston had nine hits in the game, only Pedroia had a multi-hit game, while Stephen Drew was the only starter who didn't get a hit. David Ortiz did reach base in three of his four plate appearances, bumping his OBP up to .406.

In Jose Iglesias' first appearance back with Boston, he was 1-3 with a single and two strikeouts. In his first start at third base, he made two plays with ease, one in the first and the other in the ninth. Alfredo Aceves, the other call-up of the day, came on in the ninth to finish up the game, allowing one hit and striking out one.

Friday night was yet another good start from the much-maligned John Lackey, improving his season-ERA to 2.72. With the series tied at one apiece, the final two games will be 1:30 matinees over the weekend.

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