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John Lackey on Game 2 start: ‘It’s October and it’s different’

10.24.13 at 11:06 am ET
By
John Lackey

John Lackey

John Lackey, unlike most Red Sox hurlers, has pitched in the World Series before — thrice, actually.

He gave up six runs in 12 1/3 innings against the Giants as a 24-then-25-year-old rookie en route to the 2002 title with the Angels. Lackey’s five innings of one-run ball in Game 7 paved the way for a 4-1 win.

So what can he take from that experience, 11 years, five playoff bids and one Tommy John surgery ago?

“Not a whole lot,” Lackey said Wednesday, on his 35th birthday. “That I’m old, I guess.

“The main thing is you realize how hard it is to get here. It’s been 11 years since I’ve been here. Been chasing it for a while, and you probably appreciate it more this time than you do as a rookie.”

So Thursday night, when he takes to the Fenway Park mound for Game 2 of this year’s Fall Classic against the Cardinals, he’ll take that extra decade’s worth of appreciation with him.

He won’t pretend it’s just another start, either.

“It’s not a normal game. It’s a playoff game. It’s a big game, for sure,” Lackey said. “It’s going to be cold. And it’s just that feeling in the air, for sure, that it’s October and it’s different. And you’ve got to embrace that, have fun with it and go get after it.”

It will have been nine days since Lackey last pitched — ALCS Game 3, when he threw 6 2/3 shutout innings in a 1-0 win over Detroit — and he owns a career 4.24 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and .271 opponents batting average when throwing after six or more days off.

But pitching on irregular rest isn’t anything too out of the ordinary, Lackey noted. He has pitched just 12 innings in the last month, with 11 days off before his lone ALDS start, then 10 more before he saw action in the ALCS.

“I’m better at it since I’ve done it a few times,” Lackey said. “I throw a little bit more on the side. … I didn’t throw probably quite as much as I needed to that time [before the ALDS]. So the next time against Detroit I threw extra, even threw [to] some hitters. And this time I’ve thrown off the mound a few times, just trying to keep that feel, for sure.

Lackey wasn’t too interested in discussing the Cardinals, who scored the third-most runs in baseball during the regular season, but he did say St. Louis is “really deep, really similar to an American League lineup.”

“They’re good. They’re in the World Series,” Lackey said. “There’s no bad teams left.”

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