Rapid reaction: Blue Jays 9, Sox 3
May, 11, 2011
By Jeremy Sandler, special to ESPNBoston.com
TORONTO -- However prescient Terry Francona looks now, the Boston Red Sox manager would probably take seeming a bit dumber and having a more effective John Lackey.
Consider what the skipper had to say about managing his pitching staff before Lackey’s seventh start of the season Wednesday: “Sometimes you’ve got leave some guy out there and take a bit of a pounding so it doesn’t hurt you for three or four nights,” Francona said.
Now consider it again in the wake of another Lackey implosion, this time a horrendous nine runs over 6 2/3 innings in a 9-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The result leaves the Red Sox at 17-20 heading into this weekend’s three-game series in the Bronx needing a sweep the New York Yankees to reach .500 on the season. Moreover, it will add fuel to the fire for critics who have zeroed in on the $82.5 million contract Lackey signed with the Red Sox before last season.
While it is true that before Wednesday’s disaster, Lackey had put together three solid starts, the truth is that seven outings into his second season with the Red Sox, the right-hander’s record is exactly .500 at 16-16. His ERA with Boston is a lot closer to 5.00 than 4.00.
But for those looking for positives from the two-game stop in Toronto, besides the fact it is over, Francona should have a well-rested pitching staff when the Yankees series begins on Friday night.
--The Red Sox will also have a still-streaking Adrian Gonzalez, who crushed his sixth home run in nine games on Wednesday. The blast, his seventh of the season, and David Ortiz’s solo shot in the sixth accounted for two of Boston’s three runs.
--On the topic of streaking, Jacoby Ellsbury got a reminder of how much luck can come into play on a hitting streak. His now-defunct 19-game hitting streak ended on an 0-for-4 Wednesday, but he very nearly had a single in the first inning. Only a great diving stop by Blue Jays rookie first baseman David Cooper in the first prevented a ball lashed by Ellsbury from going through for a base hit.
--The Red Sox also got to see what Jose Iglesias looked like in his first major league start. He did not embarrass himself in any way, but the error-less 0-for-3 night will not be recorded as a great moment in Red Sox history either. It is quite clear the patience Boston wants to see from the rookie still must be developed. He saw three pitches on his first at-bat, one on his second and five when he struck out swinging in the seventh. Iglesias even managed to take three pitches to start that at-bat, but two were strikes and the resulting 1-2 hole proved too great.