Angels, Lackey get monkey off their back in win

BY foxsports • October 11, 2009

Until Thursday night, the last time John Lackey won a postseason start — the seventh game of the 2002 World Series against the San Francisco Giants. The Angels were still owned by Disney, the ballpark in which he pitched was named Edison Field and Barry Bonds' biggest issue was his failure to come through in the postseason.

Yes, it had been awhile.

Lackey's postseason winless streak wasn't the only thing that came to an end in Game 1 of the ALDS. Dating back to 2004, the Angels were 0-5 in the playoffs at home against Boston and had failed to win the first game of their three most recent postseason meetings with the Red Sox.

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That all changed with the Angels' 5-0 domination of the Sox, and Lackey was the primary reason.

He pitched into the eighth and limited the Red Sox to four hits — all of them singles. Through the first five innings, Lackey pitched to two batters over the minimum; by the end of the seventh, he pitched to four over the minimum.

Powerful and efficient is a tough combination in October.

"He was good,'' said Red Sox manager Terry Francona admiringly. "He was real good.''

"John made pitches,'' said his manager Mike Scioscia, "and that's a long way to pitch against that lineup, to get us 22 outs like that. That's a tremendous effort.''

The knock on the Angels was that while they could boast of a deep rotation — so deep that Ervin Santana was exiled to the bullpen — they lacked a true No. 1 ace, one capable of shutting down the opposing team's top starter.

Last year, when the same two teams met in the ALDS, Lackey had fooled Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay with nine curveballs before inexplicably throwing him a fastball, which Bay hit out for a two-run homer, erasing what had been a 1-0 lead.

Thursday night, there were no such mistakes as Lackey consistently got Red Sox hitters to roll over on grounders to the right side of the infield — five of the first 10 outs were recorded on harmless balls hit to first baseman Kendry Morales.

"I really felt like my arm was pretty live tonight,'' said Lackey, who thrust his cap skyward to acknowledge the rousing ovation when he left with one out in the eighth. "I had a pretty good fastball.''

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