The Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays were rained out on Wednesday in Boston, which was probably good news considering the dismal 2-9 start for the Sox, their worst start since 1996.
The extra day off, coupled with a scheduled day off on Thursday, allowed Sox manager Terry Francona to alter the order of his starting rotation, and struggling right-hander John Lackey was the odd man out.
Lackey, who was due to start Wednesday’s scheduled game, will now be pushed back to next Tuesday in Oakland, giving him 10 days between starts.
Lackey is 1-1 with a 15.58 ERA in his two starts thus far and has been tentative out of the box. His fastball clearly doesn’t have the zip it once had, and even in his victory, Lackey gave up six runs in five innings.
“John’s [problem] has been about quality location in the strike zone,’’ Sox pitching coach Curt Young told the Boston Globe. “He’s a guy who is going to throw a lot of strikes. Command is what makes guys good and that is what will make him good. I’m sure he’s not real happy about [missing his turn].’’
Francona also weighed in, basically saying that someone had to be the fall guy in terms of resetting the rotation.
“Basically, Lackey is missing a turn so we don’t have to try to have guys going on a week’s rest,’’ Francona said. “It’s not perfect for him. We’ll try to map it out where it helps him.”
When Lackey returns to the rotation in Oakland, he will be facing a team that he has had a tremendous amount of success with in the past. In 31 career starts against the A’s, Lackey is 17-5 with a 2.90 ERA, and 8-4 with a 2.92 ERA pitching in Oakland.
How all of that translates to his next start remains to be seen, however. With Daisuke Matsuzaka struggling as well, Lackey’s return to form will be a welcome turnaround.
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