Boston Red Sox pitcher John Lackey started Friday night's contest against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Armed with that knowledge, anyone who has followed the Red Sox this season can probably guess what happened during the game. No doubt the guess would include the prediction that Lackey pitched well enough to win, as he has in the majority of his starts, but that he was not rewarded for a victory for his effective pitching because of the Red Sox offense. Knowing that every Lackey start is treated by the Red Sox hitters as a holiday where their services are not required, perhaps the Red Sox follower would have been bold enough to predict that the Red Sox would not even bother providing Lackey with a single run of support.
Both guesses would have been spot-on since that is exactly how the game unfolded, culminating in a 2-0 Red Sox defeat. During Lackey's start, he did pitch well enough to win, although he was by no means dominant, by limiting the Dodgers to just two runs over his 8.0 innings on the mound. However, because the Red Sox hitters were completely clueless at the plate, Lackey's margin of error was so slim that even the slightest mistake he made was enough to completely derail the Red Sox's chances of winning.
Lackey's mistake came in the fourth inning, and caused what turned out to be irreparable damage to the Red Sox's win expectancy. Having already allowed a single to Carl Crawford, followed by Crawford stealing second base, the stage was set for Lackey's match-up with Hanley Ramirez, a match-up for which Ramirez had the upper hand. Ramirez hit a two-run home run to increase his team's win expectancy from 54.1 percent to 79.3 percent, establishing the demarcation point between when the Red Sox were in the game and when they were out of it.
They were out of it entirely due to the incredible struggles the Red Sox hitters had during their plate appearances. Actually, the Red Sox batters actually outdid themselves in terms of not giving Lackey run support, going above and beyond the call of shirking duty. The usually potent offense only managed to get on base three times in 29 plate appearances and the one time they were able to get someone in scoring position, Will Middlebrooks grounded into a double play, abruptly ending the best chance the Red Sox had to score a run.
True, Lackey could have been more dominating. He could have tried to induce more grounders and not allow the Dodgers to hit so many fly balls against him as it was almost inevitable that one of them would become a home run or he could have just gone out there and pitched a perfect game, but it is hard to know how much it would have mattered considering how easily Dodgers starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco limited the Red Sox offense.
Instead, the Red Sox continued their season-long trend of losing games Lackey starts, bringing their record to just 10-13 in games in which Lackey has started. He deserves better than that.