Cole Hamels Outduels John Lackey as Phillies Take Interleague Opener


May 21, 2010

Cole Hamels Outduels John Lackey as Phillies Take Interleague Opener Postgame, Phillies 5-1: Sometimes you just have to tip your cap and move on. The Red Sox managed three hits in seven innings against Phillies starter Cole Hamels and four overall, getting their only run on a Victor Martinez solo shot three batters into the game.

John Lackey continued to have some issues throwing strikes, although both he and manager Terry Francona indicated that many of the pitches barely missed and it is not easy to give in against a lineup like the one Philadelphia has.

We will have more on Lackey's night and his recent struggles in a separate piece.

The Sox also prepared for Jacoby Ellsbury's return by designating outfielder Jonathan Van Every for assignment after the game. Ellsbury will be activated Saturday, when Boston throws Daisuke Matsuzaka against Kyle Kendrick in a 7:10 p.m. affair that we will follow right here.

Final, Phillies 5-1: The Sox do not go quietly in the ninth as David Ortiz, representing the tying run, flies to the warning track in center with the bases loaded. But the Phillies take the opener behind seven superb innings by Hamels and home runs by Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth.

The loss snaps the Red Sox' three-game losing streak. They will attempt to get back into the win column behind Daisuke Matsuzaka in a nationally televised game Saturday night.

I'm headed down to the clubhouse to get some reaction. Will let you know what I hear.

End 8th, Phillies 5-1: Miracle comebacks do occur, and at the very least the Red Sox have the right guys coming up to put one together. Facing Danys Baez in the ninth will be Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkilis.

The update on Jimmy Rollins for all you fantasy players: mild right calf strain. He is listed as day-to-day.

Mid 8th, Phillies 5-1: The Sox go 1-2-3 against the immortal David Herndon in the eighth. Mike Lowell strikes out pinch hitting for Joe Nelson, who is relieved by Manny Delcarmen after giving up a run in two innings in his 2010 debut.

End 7th, Phillies 5-1: Joe Nelson's job here is to spare the Red Sox bullpen, even though it is rather rested following the Minnesota series. He is doing a pretty good job after tossing a 1-2-3 seventh.

Mid 7th, Phillies 5-1: The Sox finally get their third hit of the game, a double by Adrian Beltre with two outs, but remain scoreless since Victor Martinez's home run in the first.

Cole Hamels is likely done after tossing 116 pitches. He was fantastic.

Joe Nelson is on for his second inning of work for Boston.

End 6th, Phillies 5-1: A bad scene for the Phillies in the sixth as shortstop Jimmy Rollins pulls up lame getting out of the box on a single to right. It was not immediately clear what he injured, but he had just returned a few days ago from a calf strain that caused him to miss more than a month.

There was also a bad scene for the Red Sox in the sixth as Juan Castro, running for Rollins, later scored on an RBI single by Ryan Howard.

Howard has homered, walked and singled in the last three innings.

Mid 6th, Phillies 4-1: The Red Sox' last hit came when Darnell McDonald led off the third with a single. Their last baserunner came when J.D. Drew walked with two outs in the fourth. Cold Hamels has retired seven in a row, and counterpart John Lackey's night is over.

Lackey yields to Joe Nelson after giving up four runs on six hits and five walks in five innings.

End 5th, Phillies 4-1: Allright, I know I'm getting on John Lackey for a variety of things here, but he's making it easy. In addition to the control problems and the long innings (see separate posts on those below), he is also giving up his fair share of home runs. Jayson Werth follows up Lackey's fourth walk of the game with a bomb to left, his ninth home run of the season.

Lackey, who also walked Shane Victorino in the inning to run that total to five, has surrendered seven home runs in his last six-plus starts.

At 107 pitches, he won't be around this one much longer.

Mid 5th, Phillies 2-1: John Lackey grounds to third to and a 1-2-3 inning for Cole Hamels. He wisely took it easy getting down the line.

I noticed a few readers asking about the David Ortiz situation this series. Terry Francona was asked about this pregame and indicated he will try to get Ortiz into a game at some point, but it will not necessarily involve Kevin Youkilis going to third.

"In a perfect world I would like to play Dave a game sandwiched somewhere in there," Francona said. "But we'll see."

Francona said that Ortiz has been taking grounders at first but Youkilis has not been at third, so if it happens it will just be a day off for Youk, in all likelihood. With Adrian Beltre AND Mike Lowell, Youkilis is essentially the third-string third baseman anyway.

End 4th, Phillies 2-1: In addition to the control problems noted below, John Lackey has struggled of late to stop the bleeding when opponents rally. Of the last 13 innings in which has been scored upon, only four have been one-run frames. He didn't get a ton of help in the fourth, however, as J.D. Drew lost a routine fly ball that helped the Phillies get a second run.

The latest crooked number went like this:

Ryan Howard led off with a solo homer to left, his eighth of the season. Jayson Werth then popped one to right that Drew could not find. It went into the books as a double, and Shane Victorino singled one out later to drive in Werth.

Lackey also surrendered a single to counterpart Cole Hamels and walked Jimmy Rollins to load the bases with two outs before getting the eighth hitter of the inning, Placido Polanco, to ground out.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 1-0: The Victor Martinez homer in the first is looming larger and larger as both starting pitchers have settled in here. In the fourth, Cole Hamels works around a two-out walk to J.D. Drew, who is just adored here in Philly.

End 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: Three straight flyouts for John Lackey in the third. It was his first real economical inning and got him through the top third of the Phillies lineup with no issues.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: This is no knock on Dustin Pedroia, who has been outstanding all season, but the strikeouts are coming at a rapid rate for him. He fanned for the second time in this game to leave a runner in scoring position and end the third.

Pedroia has struck out 24 times in 169 at bats this year. Not bad for most players. But he whiffed only 45 times in 626 ABs last year, and is on pace to shatter his career high of 52 set the year before in 653 at bats.

End 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Another walk for John Lackey in the second and nearly a third overall when opposing pitcher Cole Hamels works the count to 3-1 and then fouls off a few pitches. Hamels then drove the ball to the track in right for a long out, stranding two. Lackey has thrown 41 pitches.

Mid 2nd, Red Sox 1-0: Aside from the home run to Victor Martinez on a pitch he would like to have back, Cole Hamels has looked rather strong. His fastball has sat in the mid-90s and he has recorded three of his four strikeouts on changeups.

I just looked up between innings and saw a warning to fans who think about running onto the field. It mentioned a fine, a possible prison term, but nothing about this.

End 1st, Red Sox 1-0: John Lackey's recent issues have surrounded his increasing walk totals, an uncharacteristic development for a guy once known for his control.

But Lackey's walk rate has increased each year since 2007 and has blown up a bit in his first two months in Boston. He issues a free pass to Chase Utley with two outs in the first, his 22nd walk in 51 innings this year.

That results in 3.9 walks per nine innings. Lackey's career low in that category is 3.1

Mid 1st, Red Sox 1-0: Terry Francona has talked about how the Red Sox' woes with limiting opponents' running games may have taken a toll on Victor Martinez's offensive game. There have been improvements behind the plate for Martinez, and now the bat is really coming around.

A night after tying a career high with three doubles and four nights after slugging two home runs in Yankee Stadium, Martinez takes Cole Hamels deep with two down in the first.

Martinez is now hitting 8-for-17 with three homers and three doubles in his last four-plus games.

7:07 p.m.: We are underway at Citizens Bank Park, where the Sox are 9-3 over their last four trips.

6:10 p.m.: Marco Scutaro is out taking grounders at short and showing no real issues with his left elbow, which took a cortisone shot earlier in the week as he deals with tennis elbow.

Scutaro said that the elbow issues first popped up in spring training and he has been hampered by it for roughly a month, unable to do much of his lifting and at times even pick up a bat with his left arm. He also is not positive that the issue will not pop up again.

"The trainers told me this is the kind of injury, you can feel it for awhile," Scutaro said. "I've been training for a month and it's still the same."

That lack of progress was the reason for the shot. Scutaro said the medicine really started to take hold Friday and he feels much stronger. He promised to check in later with a status update.

"If I go deep tonight I'll let you know [how it feels]," he joked.

In other injury news, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury did some running at Citizens Bank Park and is good to go for Saturday. He said the last obstacle was diving back into the bag in his rehab game for Portland on Thursday.

"That was kinda the biggest concern was diving back on my chest," he said. "I think I answered that by diving back yesterday. I feel pretty good. I'm gonna go out there confident."

Manager Terry Francona did not indicate whether Ellsbury would play center or left field upon his return.

Also, Josh Beckett was seen lighly throwing earlier on. Francona said that when Beckett is ready to throw a side session he will, but there is no timeframe for that just yet. It will be based on how Beckett responds to his first few tosses.

Finally, Francona said the club considered bringing up a 12th pitcher and letting infielder Angel Sanchez go back down to the minors since Scutaro is back. But with the way the bullpen was spared in the two-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins, everyone is available and having an extra utility guy in a National League park can be beneficial, Francona said.

Back in a bit with a little more, including Francona's reaction to David Ortiz's displeasure to the skipper pinch-hitting for him in Toronto last month.

5:09 p.m.: The Sox and Phils are just about two hours from kicking off interleague play as each other's "natural rivals," a designation which seems to change every year.

Here is a breakdown of both starting lineups. Terry Francona said that John Lackey was "not too arrogant" about his hitting ability, although the righty had an RBI single last year with the Angels. It is his lone hit in 30 career at bats.

That was just one of many items touched on by Francona in his pregame briefing. The plan is still in place to have Jacoby Ellsbury activated and back in the lineup Saturday. Ellsbury reported nothing but positives in a brief meeting with reporters. We will have word from those two and Marco Scutaro in just a few moments.

3:23 p.m.: It is warm and sunny in Philadelphia, a perfect day to play catch in the outfield with an Aerobie, which is exactly what a few Phillies are doing right now. We will get you the lineups for the opener in a bit, as well as the pregame briefing from manager Terry Francona.

8 a.m.: The Red Sox play the first of 18 interleague games Friday when they fly to Philadelphia to take on the National League East-leading Phillies.

Boston, which is 127-102 all-time against NL opponents, carries a three-game winning streak into the series. Jon Lester fueled the latest victory with the fifth complete game of his career in Thursday's 6-2 win over the Minnesota Twins.

John Lackey takes an 11-4 interleague record into the start for Boston. He will be opposed by Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels.

The Sox are 9-3 in Citizens Bank Park over their last four visits.

First pitch is 7:05 p.m.

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