John Lackey: 'I'm not going to panic over one inning'

Rob Bradford
June 23, 2014 - 10:19 pm

SEATTLE -- It all seemed a bit bizarre. There was John Lackey being taken out after just 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing since Sept. 9, 2011 (when he had an elbow ligament dangling in his arm). "Well, not only from a staff standpoint, but in the last year and a half from John Lackey," Red Sox manager John Farrell said when asked about his surprise that his pitchers had surrendered 12 runs to the Mariners in the Sox' 12-3 loss Monday night. "He'€™s been a model of consistency, he'€™s pitched so well for us. Not to take anything away from the Mariners hitters, I thought he had very good stuff to open up the game with, and trying to get that final third out in that fourth inning turns into a six-run inning, and at that point, going against [Felix] Hernandez, that'€™s a tall order to try to come back from." There was that fourth inning, which saw Lackey exit after giving up six runs. This was a guy who had allowed a total of eight earned runs over his previous six outings. "I'm not going to panic over one inning," he said after the 74-pitch outing. "€œI think we'll be all right." And then came the at-bat that led to all the trouble. With the score tied, 2-2, with one out in the fourth, the bases loaded and Dustin Ackley at the plate, Lackey looked for the double-play ground ball. He would ultimately get to where he wanted to go, but not before Ackley saw a total of 13 pitches in his at-bat. Ackley ultimately grounded a ball first baseman Mike Napoli ranged to his right for, firing to shortstop Stephen Drew for the first out. But when Drew turned to fire to first for a potential twin-killing, nobody was there to cover. When asked after the game about any regrets Lackey might have had in not covering the base, the pitcher was cryptic. "Ummm ... I mean, yeah. I could've have gone over there,"€ he said. "I could've got over there for sure. But yeah ... I'll leave that one alone." It was unclear what other options Lackey was clearly eyeing when breaking down the play. Perhaps he thought second baseman Dustin Pedroia should have gotten over. Other than that, it was a mystery, with the image of the pitcher clearly yelling a profanity at the conclusion of the play as on-the-field evidence of his frustration. "Ackley put up a heck of an at-bat,"€ Farrell said. "€œAnd John was making quality pitches. Any time you get into an extended at-bat like that, there'€™s a little bit of frustration that'€™s going to take over. He still makes a good pitch to record the out, but it'€™s to the outstretched arm of Nap and we'€™re only able to get the one out." To cap off the inning'€™s uneasiness, Farrell and trainer Rick Jameyson immediately raced out to check on Lackey after the Ackley at-bat when, as it turned out, there was no physical issue with the starter. "When he crouched down, we just wanted to double-check and make sure he was OK," Farrell said. "He stated he was perfectly fine and we came back in at that point." "€œYeah, I'€™m OK," Lackey explained. "Physically, yeah, I'€™m fine."