Four Real? Another Day, Another Hero. Red Sox vs Padres 7-2-13

                                                                         Pete Lepak
                                                                RedSoxLife Staff Writer
Game 85:  Lackey is King and Sox win 4-1
John Lackey is the ace of the 2013 Boston Red Sox. I would have laughed out loud if someone wrote that in April, but I am serious about it now. Lackey has looked very strong this year, especially lately, and in his last four starts, he has gone at least seven innings, only giving up a total of four runs in those games. At Fenway Park  this season, Lackey is 4-1 with 1.32 ERA.  And while not much offense was created in tonight's game, and Boston only went 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position, they capitalized on more opportunities than San Diego to earn the win. Here are the four at bats that changed the game:

1) Where are they going? In the bottom of the first inning, Padres starter Robbie Erlin retires the first two men he sees. Facing Dustin Pedroia, he works the count full then loses Pedey on his sixth pitch. David Ortiz then takes a fastball to right field for a double, but right fielder Chris Denorfia is hustling all the way, and he gets the ball in quickly to second baseman Lorgan Forsythe, who fires a strike to catcher Nick Hundley. The tag doesn't look like its applied on Pedey, but he is called out at the plate, the 16th Red Sox player called out at home this year. In comparison, the second most amount of outs at home is Tampa Bay and Detroit at 11. 0-0 tie.

2) New Guy, Same Result. In the bottom of the fourth inning, patience scores runs for Boston. The Red Sox do a great job of wearing down pitchers because they take a lot of pitches. For example, in this inning, David Ortiz singled on the third pitch. Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia then walked on full counts. In Brandon Synder's eighth pitch of the at bat, he pounds the ball down the left field line but it just lands foul. Erlin tries to fool Synder with a belt high fastball on pitch nine, but Synder is not fooled. He crushes the ball to straight away center field. It smacks against the top of the Green Monster in left center field, and when it hits the ground, three runs score. Synder is thrown out at third, but the Sox again have a lead early in a game. 3-0 Sox.

3) Gotcha! In the top of the fifth inning, Nick Hundley doubles down the left field line to start lead-off. Alexi Amarista follows with a long, high shot to the Green Monster, but left fielder Johnny Gomes raises his glove and pretends like it is going to be a routine out. Gomes's play freezes Hundley between second and third , and when the ball bangs off the wall, Hundley is surprised it wasn't caught, and so he only advances to third when he should have scored easily. The move pays off, because Boston then retires the next three men to strand two on base. 3-0 Sox.

4) Head Games. A very interesting moment happened in the top of the seventh inning. John Lackey was cruising and feeling very loose, but out of nowhere the third base umpire asked for the ball. Lackey appeared annoyed but obliged and threw the umpire the ball. It appeared as if the umpire was checking the ball for spit, as he though Lackey had put some water on the ball, but when nothing was found, Lackey got the ball back. The Sox pitcher turned, tried to focus on the batter, and then threw him a flat curveball that landed on the top of the Green Monster for a homerun. Lackey didn't blame the umpire, but I am sure he was angry at the ump for disrupting his flow. 4-1 Sox.

Koji Uehara entered the ninth inning and shut down the Padres 1-2-3 to preserve the 51st win of the year for the Sox. Hugs all around as Koji strikes out two men. Tomorrow, Boston and San Diego go at it at 7:10pm when Jon Lester faces Edinson Volquez.

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