John Lackey’s turnaround ‘mirrored’ Red Sox championship season

John Lackey Red Sox
John Lackey was just a face in the crowd during the World Series trophy presentation on the field at Fenway Park Wednesday night. Credit: Getty Images

Not only was it a historic turnaround for the entire Red Sox team, going from worst to first and ultimately finishing with a World Series title, but it was also a dramatic turnaround for Red Sox starter John Lackey.

The right-hander came into the 2013 season after missing the entire 2012 season because of Tommy John surgery, and in 2011 he was one of the most ridiculed players on the team after earning $34 million in his first two years as a Red Sox and finishing with a combined 26-23 record with a 5.41 ERA in 2010 and 2011.

Coming back from Tommy John, despite his 10-13 regular season record, 2013 was one of the best years of his career as he posted a 3.52 ERA (third-lowest of his career) and won the fans of Boston back. It was only fitting he was on the mound Wednesday night when the Red Sox won their third World Series title in the last 10 years.

“His turnaround mirrors the organization,” manager John Farrell said. “He did an incredible job of preparing himself for the start of this season last off-season by doing the work that he did and he carried it through. Whether it’s the baseball God or whatever, it worked out where he is on the mound in this final game. It is fitting.”

Lackey tossed 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on nine hits and struck out five, while getting out of jams in the second, fourth and fifth innings. With picking up the win he became the first pitcher in major league history to start and win the clinching game of a World Series for two different teams as he won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series with the Angels.

The 35-year-old went 3-1 in four starts and one relief appearance this postseason, with his only loss coming in Game 2 to the Cardinals. He really stepped his game up when it mattered most, finishing with a 2.77 ERA over 26 innings in the playoffs. Wednesday was his third appearance of the series after starting Game 2 and coming in relief in Game 4, so he knew the Cardinals hitters would have some idea of what to expect.

“You have to make adjustments, I mean this is the third time that I’ve pitched in this series,” he said “We had a plan and mixed up a few things.”

Lackey did everything he could to try and make it through the full seven innings, but after retiring the first two hitters he allowed three straight hits and the first Cardinals run of the game. With runners on first and third and two outs Farrell came out of the dugout to get Lackey, but the veteran right-hander talked himself out of his manager’s decision, something he could never do during the season.

Following a walk to Matt Holliday, there was nothing he could say or do this time as he was removed from the game in favor of Junichi Tazawa with the bases loaded. Tazawa got a harmless ground out from Allen Craig to end the threat and all but clinch the win for the Red Sox.

The crowd gave Lackey a rousing ovation when he exited and for the first time, possibly, as a member of the Red Sox, he acknowledged the crowd with a tip of his cap.

“It was my appreciation back to them, thanks for understanding what I’ve gone through, I guess,” he said.

In a year that seemed like an impossible dream, it ended with something that could not have been scripted any better, with Lackey earning the win in the clinching game of the World Series.

Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

NYPD: Suspect dead after two U.S. Marshals, cop…

A suspected sex offender died during a shootout inside a West Village smoke shop that left two U.S. Marshals and an NYPD detective wounded, officials said.

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.

Food

Zagat releases '30 Under 30' list

Zagat releases a list of the people changing the food and drink industry across the country.