Rejuvenated Red Sox Clinch Playoff Berth
After a 2012 season full of debauchery, defensive woes, and a lingering aura of deep fried chicken in the dugout, the 2013 Boston Red Sox have clinched a playoff berth, effectively turning around their horrid 69-93 season.
The win came off the strength of John Lackey (10-12, 3.44 ERA), a day removed from beard night at Fenway. Lackey pitched a complete game against the Orioles ace, Chris Tillman (16-7, 3.70 ERA), who has been stellar vs. the Sox this season.
Coming into the game, Tillman was 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA against the Sox. That didn’t stop the Red Sox from putting up 3 runs in the second inning with a large part of that coming from Stephen Drew’s 2-run homerun.
This season there were many questions as to whether or not John Lackey would step up and be the pitcher they acquired from Los Angeles. Lackey started the year in much better shape than in 2012. During his postgame press conference John Farrell acknowledged Lackey’s better physique as another small piece in the great success that the Redsox have had this season.
“The remake of John Lackey, both physically and getting back on the mound and performing as he’s done all year, mirrors that of this team.” said Farrell.
Lackey pitched an absolute gem against the O’s surrendering only 1 run on two hits. The one run was a solo homerun by Adam Jones over the left field wall.
Despite the lack of run support this season, Lackey has been able to put together a great year. Granted 10-12 does not appear to constitute a stellar year, but that can all be attributed to the lack of run support. John Lackey is currently 30th among major league pitchers in run support at an average of 3.79 runs per game. That is compared to pitchers Jon Lester, Ryan Dempster, and Felix Doubront who have all benefited from this Redsox power offense and are in the top 10 in run support this season. Give him some more run support and he is easily a 15-9 pitcher.
While clinching the playoffs tonight is a monumental step forward from last year, the Red Sox still have more work that needs to be done. They now have to focus on winning their division and to finally put an exclamation point on this miraculous comeback season.