The Red Sox split their mid-week two-game series in Oakland, but there are reasons to be hopeful about both contests, regardless of outcome. Specifically, the performance of John Lackey continued the recent trend that was discussed earlier in the week–that of the Red Sox starting pitching finally performing like it is supposed to–and success against Gio Gonzalez by the lineup was also a welcome sight.
Lackey went six innings and took the loss in the 5-0 contest, but the losing portion of that had more to do with the Sox lack of offense and a poor bullpen performance than it did Lackey. Lackey scattered four hits, allowed one run, and walked just the one batter over his 93 pitches while striking out three. It wasn’t the most dominant start we’ve seen from the Texan, but when you consider he gave up six and nine runs in his two starts before that, then it seems pretty good. Not that I put much stock into Game Score, but Lackey’s 62 from April 19 is almost twice as valuable as his previous two starts combined.
Buchholz picked up a win in his start and dropped his ERA for the season to 5.31. He gave up a solo shot early, and once again walked more batters than he struck out, this time doing so without more groundballs than flyballs. His fastball velocity is down right now, and his command is iffy, but his slider is still coming in around 90 mph as it did last year.
I’m not worried just yet, but there may be something slightly off in his mechanics that is causing his heater to come in a little slower than it should–that thing is a mid-90s weapon, not a 91-92 mph pitch.
There have been some head-scratching lineups used against lefties this year, but Terry Francona seems to have a few things figured out that merit repeating. J.D. Drew in the leadoff spot makes a ton of sense, and has been something I’ve advocated for many times. He had a .379 on-base percentage from 2008-2010, and with the number of pitches he sees per plate appearance, is exactly the kind of guy you want hitting in front of Dustin Pedroia.
Jed Lowrie also seems to be getting consistent playing time now, and once against was used as the third baseman against a left-hander so that Kevin Youkilis could slide in to the DH slot for David Ortiz (who has his own issues against southpaws). He isn’t Troy Tulowitzki, despite his play since returning from mono, but he is certainly doing a worthwhile impression, and therefore merits all the playing time Boston can get him.
The Sox start a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels tonight, and, thankfully, will miss seeing Jered Weaver, who started last night. They will face off against Dan Haren, though, but at least Boston will throw their own ace, Jon Lester, against him.
The Angels lead the AL West at the moment thanks to a black magick ritual performed over the off-season that stole the essence of Albert Pujols so that it could be given to Alberto Callaspo and Maicer Izturis. The Red Sox are still in the basement in the East–a few wins here could help the standings in each division look more like they were expected to–though Boston will have to hope that the Legend of Lowrie is enough to combat the dark arts of Los Angeles.