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Closing Time: Red Sox blanked as John Lackey takes tough loss

09.02.13 at 4:37 pm ET
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The Red Sox dropped the first game of their three-game series against the Tigers, taking a 3-0 loss on a day in which they left eight men on base.

John Lackey was the hard luck loser for the Red Sox, as he pitched into the eighth inning, for the third consecutive game. In his 7 1/3 innings, Lackey allowed seven hits and three runs, the last one of which came on a sacrifice fly from Prince Fielder against Matt Thornton following Lackey’s departure from the game. Lackey also walked one and struck out five as his record dropped to 8-12 on the season.

Lackey is 0-2 over the three game span in which he’s seen the eighth inning each outing, a stretch in which he has allowed eight runs over 22 2/3 innings. In those games, he has been given just four runs of support, with the team scoring no runs for him in two of the starts. Monday marked the fourth time in his last eight starts in which the Red Sox were shut out and was the sixth such occurrence all season.

Following the game, Lackey expressed frustration only with the fact that the team lost, saying that he feels “this is about as good as I’ve ever pitched,” and isn’t worried that he needs to do more each time he takes the mound because of offensive concerns.

“You can’t worry about that,” Lackey said. “The other team’s pitcher’s not my problem. I’ve got to get a good lineup out as many times as I can.”

The Red Sox struggled to capitalize on some good offensive opportunities, as they wasted three different promising innings of two on with nobody out (additionally, they twice failed to cash in on leadoff doubles). The Sox didn’t get their first hit of the day off Doug Fister until there were two out in the fourth, though Fister had put four of Boston’s first seven batters on base with three walks and one hit batsman.

Despite the rocky start for Fister, he was able to go seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits, walking four batters and striking out four.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Jose Iglesias hit the ball well in his return to Fenway Park. The shortstop, whom the Sox traded in the Jake Peavy deal after he hit .330/.409/.785 this season, received a nice ovation as he took the batters box and subsequently belted a double to left field. He was robbed of a hit in his second at-bat, as Jacoby Ellsbury sprinted in to make a highlight-reel diving catch.

Iglesias also turned in a fine play in the field with an unassisted double play. With Shane Victorino on first with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Iglesias came from across the bag to field a Dustin Pedroia grounder, tag out Victorino and fire the ball to first. Always regarded as an exceptional shortstop whose bat was his only question mark, Iglesias has enjoyed a strong season between Boston and Detroit in which he has excelled in both areas of his game.

– The Tigers got their first run on a rather adventurous play from Ellsbury in which an Andy Dirks drive went over his head and allowed Victory Martinez to score from first base.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia didn’t have the best day at the plate, grounding out in the second and failing to bunt Daniel Nava to third after Nava had led off the seventh with a double and Mike Napoli walked. Saltalamacchia’s bunt didn’t get far, allowing Avila to scoop it up and get the force out at third.

– The first two innings started equally promising and end equally disappointing, as the Sox saw their first two batters reach base in both innings, only to see a double play steer them towards a scoreless frame.

After Ellsbury walked and Victorino was hit by a pitch to begin the bottom of the first, Dustin Pedroia grounded into a double-play. Though it advanced Ellsbury to third, Boston’s leadoff man was stranded as David Ortiz grounded out to end the inning.

In what was essentially a carbon copy of the inning, Daniel Nava and Napoli walked to lead off the second, but a Saltalamacchia double play and Stephen Drew flyout to center led to the same fate as the first.

– Speaking of all those double plays, two of them were grounded into by Pedroia. He made up for it in the eighth with a two-out double to set the Red Sox up to get on the board in the eighth, but David Ortiz struck out swinging after Pedroia had advanced to third on a wild pitch.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Lackey was able to work his way out of a tough spot in the fourth thanks in part to misstep from a former Red Sox slugger. Following a leadoff double from Fielder and a pass ball that allowed Fielder to advance to third with no outs, Victor Martinez hit a short grounder that Lackey fielded and pelted Martinez with. Martinez was ruled out, however, as he was running on the grass and obstructing Lackey’s throw to first.
Lackey then got Dirks and Omar Infante to fly out, the latter of whom took  Ellsbury to the warning track on an inning-ending hard-hit ball.

– With a single and two doubles, Nava Daniel Nava moved himself to fifth in the American League in on-base percentage. Nava trails some big names in Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Joe Mauer and Ortiz.

– Victorino has been planed seven times in 63 plate appearances while hitting right against righties. That’s pretty often, and at the time accounted for .115 points of on-base percentage (it was on his 61st such plate appearance).

– The Red Sox were able to gets double play out of the Tigers and limit the damage in a trying seventh inning. Following the adventures that yielded Detroit’s first run and put Dirks on third and a walk to Infante, Pedroia fielded a grounder from Don Kelly, and though Infante avoided Pedroia’s attempted tag, the Sox were able to get Kelly at first and get the ball to second in time to tag Infante. The play scored Dirks, but the inning had the makings of a potentially long one ended on the next batter when Alex Avila lined out.

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