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John Lackey on hat tip to fans: ‘It was my appreciation back to them’

10.31.13 at 4:01 am ET
By
John Lackey. (AP)

John Lackey was the winning pitcher in Game 6. (AP)

It took a while, but it seems as though John Lackey and the fans of Boston have finally mended fences.

The proof that the relationship had officially been healed came as Lackey approached the home side’s dugout Wednesday night, having just been pulled from what would be the Red Sox’ World Series-clinching victory.

Just moments before entering into an embrace with fellow starter Clay Buchholz, Lackey took his hat off his head and tipped it to the fans, who had already burst into a raucous round of applause, saluting Game 6’s winning pitcher.

“It was nice. It was my appreciation back to them, thanks for understanding what I’ve gone through, I guess,” said Lackey, who allowed just one run over 6 2/3 innings.

He later admitted, “It’s been tough. There were a lot of times that weren’t a whole lot of fun.”

This was not one of those times.

Lackey punctuated a successful postseason run by becoming the first player to start and win the clinching game of a World Series for two different teams, having already claimed the victory in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series for the Angels.

“I’m a huge baseball fan, I love this game, to do anything in this game to be the first guy, that’s pretty damn cool,” he said.

Lackey got hot at just the right time in the postseason, having allowed just four runs over his last three starts (19 2/3 innings). His final ERA in playoffs was 2.33.

Between the regular season and the postseason, Lackey finished his first season back from Tommy John surgery having made 33 starts, notching a 3.43 ERA over 215 1/3 innings.

“Lack, he’s the biggest competitor I’ve ever been around,” Buchholz said. “I’m sure everybody can notice that whenever Skip [John Farrell] tries to take the ball from him. I’ve gotten to know him really good over the past couple of years. The reason they signed him was for what he did tonight. Just because he wasn’t healthy the first couple of years here, it says a lot for him to go out there hurt and pitch through it and not pitch at all last year and come back and have the season he had this year, that’s a winner.”

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