Turning in yet another impressive performance, John Lackey matched his career high with 12 strikeouts while pitching seven innings of two-run ball in the Red Sox’s 5-3 win over the Rockies on Wednesday.
It was the third straight start in which Lackey has pitched seven innings and given up two runs. He’s turned in quality starts in seven of his last eight outings.
Lackey matched his career high in strikeouts established back in 2008, when he was still with the Angels. It was his 14th career 10-strikeout game, but his first since 2010.
Lackey became the 10th pitcher this year to strike out at least 12 and walk none in a start, joining Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Matt Harvey and others. Yu Darvish has done it twice. In 2011, there were just six such outings of 12 strikeouts and no walks over the course of the season. In 2006, there were three.
The last Red Sox hurler to pull off the feat was Pedro Martinez in 2003.
MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.
Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.
Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.
Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.
The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.