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Closing Time: John Lackey dominates as Red Sox trounce Tribe

05.24.13 at 10:50 pm ET
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The Red Sox entered the year hoping that a healthy John Lackey might offer a reliable source of solid, competitive innings. But the veteran has given them something far different than that. Right now, he’s in a stretch where he’s been little short of dominant.

That continued on Friday, when Lackey overpowered the Indians through seven innings of an 8-1 Red Sox win. Lackey allowed just one unearned run on two hits, struck out eight and walked three, on a night when his fastball touched an eye-catching 95 mph. A few things about his season stand out:

– In his last two starts, he’s allowed no earned runs and just three hits in 13 innings while striking out 13 and walking three.

– On the year, he now has three games of eight strikeouts — matching the total number of such contests he had in his first three years of employment with the Red Sox.

– He’s struck out 40 batters in 39 2/3 innings, a rate of 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings that would represent a new career high (surpassing the 8.6 Ks/9 he had in 2005 with the Angels — when he was 26 years old).

– His ERA for the year is 2.72 and his WHIP is 1.13, both of which would represent — easily — the best such marks of his career.

Right now, Lackey doesn’t resemble the pitcher that the Sox thought they’d have coming back from Tommy John surgery or even the one whom they thought they were signing as a free agent after the 2009 season. He’s been better than either of those standards, with his potential to join Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz as a somewhat reliable source of strength in the rotation representing one of the season’s biggest surprises for the Sox.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Mike Carp snapped an 0-for-21 stretch by smashing a three-run homer well over the Red Sox bullpen for a three-run homer in the bottom of the second. It was Carp’s third homer of the year.

– For the eighth time in nine games, Daniel Nava reached base multiple times, going 1-for-3 and getting hit by a pitch. He’s hitting .299 with a .402 OBP.

David Ortiz had his first multi-walk game of the year, going 1-for-2 with a pair of free passes. While he’s been hitting for average, he’s been drawing an uncharacteristically low number of walks, perhaps because he’s felt discomfort at times with pitches on the outer half of the plate due to soreness in his intercostal region. He now is hitting .353 with a .406 OBP.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Though Stephen Drew did make sharp contact in a couple of at-bats, he went 0-for-4, and he’s now 0-for-17 in five games since returning from his lower back discomfort. His average has dropped to .205 with a .657 OPS.

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