The disparity between the Boston Red Sox and the Colorado Rockies is staggering. One has the best record in all of baseball and the other is 19.5 games out of first place in its division. Given that the Red Sox lay claim to the former distinction while the Rockies have fumbled their way into the latter achievement, one would expect each contest in the two-game series to have the Red Sox blowing out the Rockies. Not so on Tuesday, however, as it was the Rockies who blew out the vaunted Red Sox 8-3.
Knowing that the mere sight of starting pitcher John Lackey on the mound would induce a state of lethargy among the Red Sox hitters, three of the Red Sox pitchers who appeared in the game tried to beat the offense at its own game, sleep walking their way through their appearances.
Lackey, himself, was the ringleader of the sleep walking syndicate. While Lackey was able to strike out five of the 25 batters he faced for a strikeout percentage of 20.0 percent, his pitches simply were not overwhelming enough to keep the Rockies in check during his 6.0 innings of work. He especially fell victim to all the fly balls he allowed, giving up seven fly balls in all, of which three became home runs.
It is no surprise that the fly balls had an easier time of leaving the confines of Coors Field. After all, it is one of the top ten home-run producing parks in the major leagues so any pitcher that concedes a fly ball there does so at his own risk.
What was surprising was that opposing batters would have such an easy time of hitting fly balls against Lackey since for the season, he has done a masterful job of keeping his ground ball-to-fly ball ratio tilted heavily in the favor of ground balls. Yet, he was unable to maintain that ratio, through a lack of overpowering stuff, and suffered for it, allowing four earned runs in large part because of the three home runs. Fortunately for his ERA, all three home runs were solo shots.
With Lackey setting the tone for the contest and letting other pitchers on the Red Sox staff know there was no need to bring their best stuff to the mound since the offense was unlikely to produce anyway, relievers Drake Britton and Brandon Workman followed Lackey's lead.
Britton failed to even retire the only batter he faced in the game, allowing a double to Jordan Pacheco to lead off the seventh inning. Workman compounded Drake's failure as he did not retire the first three batters he faced, giving up two runs in the process, one of which was charged to Britton and one of which was charged to himself. Not to be outdone by his own futility, in the plate appearance after recording his only out of the evening, Workman conceded a two-RBI single to Michael Cuddyer to give the Rockies an 8-1 lead.
Still, despite the best efforts of Lackey, Britton, and Workman to best the Red Sox hitters in the challenge of who can do the most to lose a Lackey start, the three pitchers still fell well short of the meager production of the offense. In 36 plate appearances, their teammates struggled to an anemic hitting line of .206 BA/.250 OBP/.324 SLG with a .244 wOBA.
They also combined to waste each of the five at-bats they had with runners in scoring position, coming up hitless on each occasion. As a result of the ineptness the Red Sox displayed at the plate, only two batters, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Quintin Berry, were able to post positive win probabilities while collectively, the offense did significant damage to the team's win expectancy with a win probability added of -0.345.
No matter how much the Red Sox pitchers tried to out-lose the game, the Red Sox hitters were able to thwart them at each turn, resulting in a loss that they both contributed to, but one in which the hitters can lay claim to most of the losing contributions. The defeat should come as a lesson to the Red Sox pitching staff that when it comes to losing a Lackey start, no one takes the mission more seriously than the Red Sox hitters.