John Lackey throws Quality Start, denies need for surgery

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During a radio interview yesterday Peter Gammons speculated about whether John Lackey’s struggles and elbow problems could lead to his needing Tommy John surgery, but then last night Lackey tossed 7.2 innings of two-run ball against the Phillies and denied the need for surgery.

Lackey told reporters that Gammons “straight made that up” and then asked them, “What did it look like tonight?”

However, general manager Theo Epstein explained to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston that the Red Sox “are not hiding that he had an elbow injury” and will “monitor him and make sure those symptoms don’t come back.”

Lackey has a 5.28 ERA in five starts since spending time on the disabled list with a strained elbow that required a cortisone shot and Epstein gave an interesting answer when asked if he’d classify the injury as a torn ligament:

Again, first off almost every pitcher by standard definition has a tear in his shoulder or elbow. That’s the nature of throwing a baseball. I think it’s accurate to say he had an elbow injury, he was given a shot for it to alleviate the symptoms and we monitor it closely.

Terry Francona took a much more sarcastic approach to Gammons’ speculation, saying: “We don’t usually work six weeks ahead on surgery. Go get ’em, Lack. You’ve got six more starts and then you’ll need Tommy John.”

Oh, and in addition to making $15.25 million this season Lackey is also still owed $15.25 million in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Astros, Red Sox announce lineups for ALCS Game 5

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The Red Sox are looking to punch their ticket to the World Series in Houston on Thursday night Game 5 of the ALCS. If they do, they’ll return to the Fall Classic for the first time since 2013, knocking out the defending champs in the process.

Red Sox

RF Mookie Betts
LF Andrew Benintendi
DH J.D. Martinez
SS Xander Bogaerts
1B Mitch Moreland
2B Ian Kinsler
3B Rafael Devers
C Christian Vázquez
CF Jackie Bradley, Jr.

SP David Price

Chris Sale is still feeling weak after his brief stint in the hospital earlier this week, so Price is getting the start instead. If the series goes to a Game 6, Sale would start.

The lineup is a little different than it was when they faced Verlander in Game 1. Moreland and Kinsler are new additions. Devers draws another start with Eduardo Núñez banged up.

Astros

3B Alex Bregman
RF George Springer
DH José Altuve
SS Carlos Correa
1B Yuli Gurriel
2B Marwín González
LF Tony Kemp
C Martin Maldonado
CF Jake Marisnick

SP Justin Verlander

Bregman hits leadoff again. He hasn’t hit for average — just .182 — but he has drawn seven walks across four games. González handles second base again as Altuve’s right knee remains sore. Marisnick is getting his first start of the postseason. He’s had just one plate appearance, coming in Game 2 of the ALDS and he struck out.