The Red Sox could sure use a strong start to wash out the bitter taste of yesterday's pitching implosion.
Good thing Jon Lester's on the mound tonight against Toronto (7:10 p.m., NESN, WEEI).
Right down to the spelling of their first names, the young lefty has been everything yesterday's starter, John Lackey, isn't.
While Lackey has been wildly inconsistent, single-handedly turning potential W's into L's, Lester's been doing everything right. The 27-year-old has posted five straight statistical quality starts, and Boston's won six of his last 10 outings. Two of those losses were at least partially attributable to poor run support -- a 3-1 loss in Pittsburgh and a 4-2 defeat against Milwaukee.
Lackey, who gave up seven runs in less than three innings yesterday, has just one quality start in his last eight outings. The Sox have lost six of his last 10 (including three in a row), and he received at least six runs of support in the four victories.
Despite his well-publicized struggles, Lackey hasn't lost the support of his teammates.
"Lack's the same guy every day," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia told ESPN. "He comes in here and busts his tail,
and every game he pitches, we know we've got a chance. He's just grinding, man. That's something Lack does every day. He competes and keeps us in the ballgame."
Manager Terry Francona attributed Lackey's struggles to "movement and location."
"We've been through everything. We put him on the disabled list
because of the elbow," Francona told reporters. "His velocity is pretty much
staying consistent. I think at times, movement and location is what's
probably bothering him. It's consistency and things like that."
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