Lackey Steps It Up, But Red Sox Still Fall Short

In the past week and a half,

no one has faced harsher criticism in Boston sports media than John Lackey.

Lackey’s horrendous outing against the San Diego Padres on June 22 has made him a target for everyone in town. While rain fell on Fenway, Lackey gave up 4 runs in one inning amidst wild pitches and hit batters. Lackey was booed off the mound.

But the Red Sox fans were not nearly as harsh as the pundits. Across 98.5 The Sports Hub, WEEI, and NESN Lackey was lambasted by nearly everyone. Peter Gammons leaked rumors about Tommy John Surgery and many called for his banishment to the bullpen.

This start in Philadelphia was enormously important.  John Lackey delivered; the Red Sox as a team did not. Lackey pitched very well, conceding only 2 runs in 7 2/3 innings. He even knocked in the only Red Sox run with a double in the 5th.

But somehow, during the post-game interview, the press continued to go after him. Perhaps only because crucifying this guy is the trendy thing to do these days.  And that is what irks me about Boston sports media.  People don’t seem realize that these atheletes are human beings, especially John Lackey, who is famous for being an emotional guy.

Lackey and Manager Terry Francona have been denying rumors about surgery. So when pressed with questions about Tommy John surgery after the game, it was obvious Lackey had been pushed to the limit.

“You guys are brutal,” He said.

Clearly we hold athletes to a higher standard in Boston. We have the most passionate fans in the Nation. This is the home of Champions, and we expect our athletes to play to that standard. But it’s time to cut this guy some slack. He is having a down year, sure. But He showed immense heart last night in the most high pressure start of the season.  With the criticism raining down on him just like the precipitation at Fenway during his last outing, Lackey shined.  The Red Sox offense did NOTHING to support him. He drove in the only run while only conceding two.

Moving Adrian Gonzalez to RF and allowing David Ortiz to enter the lineup did not solve the Red Sox offensive woes.  The Sox have lost 6 of 7, generating little offense during Interleague play to support the battered pitching staff.

It’s time to back off Lackey. His wife is facing a terrible  fight with breast cancer. He just came off the DL from an elbow injury which he is taking cortisone shots to battle through. Last night, he proved that he has what it takes to succeed under pressure. Right now it’s important for Red Sox Nation to get behind him so he has confidence heading into the second half of the season.

Because like it or not,we will need Lackey down the stretch in order

to have a chance at winning the World Series.

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