John Lackey pitched his best game of the season on Thursday as Boston clinched their place in the MLB postseason for the first time since 2009 – beating Baltimore 3-1.
Lackey threw a clean game into the seventh inning and conceded just two hits against an Orioles side with one of the best offenses in the majors. His performance put an end to a concerning couple of days at Fenway Park and confirms at least a wildcard spot next month.
Unfortunately, while Lackey (10-12) threw a winning game, there are problems this defence must address before the postseason begins. Baltimore outpunched us on Tuesday and our bullpen looked fragile, which got even worse a day later as the Os struck two runs off Franklin Morales (2-2) in the 12 inning.
Thankfully Lackey didn't require much from his ‘pen yesterday but the concern remains that, come the big games next month, we maybe lack the solidity to see out games. Fourteen teams boast a better ERA than our relievers (3.56) and while we’ve won a lot from the bottom innings (30-21), Baltimore proved that all it takes is one hit to change a game.
With the bat we look comfortable, having hit Baltimore for 22 in the last two games, and many fans betting MLB World Series will be confident we stay consistent through the postseason. Hits are becoming increasingly easy to come by and for the main part we’ve converted them into runs.
To score just three from 15 hits (Wednesday) was not good but compare that to the Yankees series previously – where we scored 22 off 31 – and you begin to suspect John Farrell’s offence is ready to take on October.Indeed, Boston are rightly up there in the MLB betting odds and now they’ve secured their place in the postseason Farrell can begin work on structuring this bullpen without any distractions.