John Lackey played a 'bit of country hardball' on the way to his win

Rob Bradford
April 02, 2014 - 7:56 pm

BALTIMORE --  John Lackey is feeling good about himself. Sure, the results in the Red Sox'€™ 6-2 win over would suggest there is some confidence brewing in Lackey. He did, after all, turn in six solid innings against the Orioles, allowing just two runs while striking out six. But it was also the manner in which Lackey talked about Wednesday night which would leave one to believe the misery of 2011 had crept even further away with the start of '€™14. Take, for instance, his response to finally receiving run support (an issue he faced throughout last season): "Yeah, I'm not really worried about last year. I'm not going to the Hall of Fame, fellas. I don'€™t really care about wins. I'm going out there to try to help the boys win. I don't think I'm getting to 300." Then there was the strategy of coming out of the gate throwing almost exclusively fastballs. (All but one of his pitches in the first two innings were heaters.): "I threw a bunch of heaters man. I played a bit of country hardball there for the first three innings. After that, I started mixing in some stuff. I made the one mistake and felt pretty good overall." Even Lackey'€™s explanation for his lone miscue -- a two-run homer to Nelson Cruz -- had some spice on it. When asked if his frustration after the blast was due to the pitch or the shallow left field, the pitcher responded, "Multiple things. More than that, probably." (One guess would be Lackey'€™s frustration with those caught for using performance-enhancing drugs, which Cruz served a 50-game suspension for in '€™13.) But perhaps the most notable reason for Lackey'€™s demeanor was that he just pitched well. And according to the starter, a big reason for the outing could be attributed to the work of new Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. "I always try to work pretty quick, especially when you're throwing strikes and feeling pretty good about it," said Lackey, who exited after throwing 90 pitches. "A.J. called a great game. That helps a lot with tempo when you don'€™t really have to think too much about what pitch you want to throw. When he'€™s throwing down the one you'€™re looking for, things kind of roll pretty good."