For one, Lackey was the winning pitcher in the Red Sox' first victory of the season, a 9-6 triumph over the New York Yankees on Friday. He also had better results than his season debut, an absolute disaster in Texas last Saturday.
However, Lackey's line — five innings, six runs on seven hits — was not what he, nor a fan base itching for better results, wanted to see.
"I obviously didn't pitch very well," Lackey said after lowering his ERA to 15.58.
Still, in a game that saw runs come early and often for both sides, Lackey was able to at least keep his team close. By leaving with a lead and handing it over to a bullpen that was finally lined up the way it should be, Lackey was at least part of the process in getting to win No. 1.
His teammates didn't take that lightly.
"That was huge," said Daniel Bard of Lackey's ability to last five innings. "John probably threw a couple of pitches he would rather have back, but he battled. He's gonna have a lot of outings better than that…I know he probably wasn't thrilled but he did enough to get us a win."
Lackey, on the other hand, had nothing but praise for the group that ultimately delivered that win. Alfredo Aceves, Bobby Jenks, Bard and Jonathan Papelbon each threw a scoreless frame, allowing just one hit between them in the process.
That all came after Lackey failed to get through a single frame without allowing at least one run.
"The guys were great," he said of the relievers. "Bobby came out there and was a little amped up, that first hitter. After [pitching coach Curt Young's] trip he really dialed it in. And Bard looked good, and Pap was tremendous. Aceves, he finally threw the first zero of the game so that was kind of nice to get things going in the right direction."
Lackey said he had good command of his breaking ball all day, but his fastball seemed flat for the second straight game and the Yankees made him pay. Six of their seven hits vs. the right-hander went for extra bases.
"I thought every ball they hit was down the line and for extra bases," Lackey added. "If I keep those in the middle they're singles and no runs."
Bottom line, they were not singles, and it's the second straight start that Lackey's opponent has beefed up the slugging percentage.
At the very least, he left with a lead, and that's what the team will remember.
"If he comes out [of the game] in the third and fourth, it's a whole different story," manager Terry Francona said. "He was able to kinda slug through it, and he always does that. I'll say that. And then our bullpen came in and did a nice job."
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