October 5, 2013

Red Sox Notebook: Lackey won't hold emotions

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BOSTON - John Lackey almost chuckled at the question. Lackey, who is getting the start Saturday in Game 2, was asked if it was tough to keep emotions under control.

GAME 2

WHO: Red Sox (Lackey) vs. Rays (Price)

WHEN: 5:37 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Fenway Park

TELEVISION: TBS

SERIES: Red Sox lead, 1-0

As if Lackey ever tries to control his emotions.

"I'm going to be emotional," Lackey said. "I'm going to be fired-up. That's part of the reason I'm still pitching.

"I'm excited about it. This time of year is what we're all here for."

Lackey (10-13, 3.52) is enjoying a comeback year from Tommy John surgery.

Lackey used to complain about Fenway Park when he pitched for the Angels, but this year he's 6-3 with a 2.47 ERA at Fenway, and 4-10, 4.48 ERA on the road.

Those numbers are one reason why Lackey is starting Saturday instead of Game 3 or 4 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Why the disparity?

"I'm not really sure," Lackey said. "Because, really, this place probably isn't one of the best places to pitch. It should be the other way around.

"We've got a great fan base and it's a fun place, good atmosphere, so who knows? If I knew, I'd pitch better on the road, I guess."

Rays Manager Joe Maddon was the Angels' bench coach when Lackey pitched in Anaheim, Calif.

"Great competitor," Maddon said. "Now you're seeing him at full force, where he's well, because he's got all his weapons, plus the makeup to be as good as you're seeing right now."

DAVID PRICE will get the start Saturday for Tampa Bay and Price (10-8, 3.33) loves Fenway more than Lackey.

Price is 10-6 lifetime against the Red Sox with a 2.93 ERA. At Fenway, Price is 6-1 with a 1.88 ERA.

The Red Sox are batting .183 against Price at Fenway.

How does he do it?

"I can't give you all my secrets," Price said with a smile. "But honestly, I don't know, man.

"It's just pitching against the Red Sox If you come with your 'B' game, 'B-plus' game, you have a pretty good chance to lose. It heightens your awareness.

"Pitching in this ballpark, pitching against that team, it makes you want it just a little bit more."

On July 24, Price pitched a five-hitter at Fenway in a 5-1 victory. Mike Napoli's home run was all Boston could manage.

"I don't know if he can pitch any better than that," Farrell said.

"He presents a tall challenge, for sure."

For all of Price's accolades, including the 2012 Cy Young Award, he's never won a post-season start, with an 0-3 record.

His complete-game victory Monday against Texas in the tiebreaker game may have been his finest moment.

"I haven't won a lot of big games for this franchise," Price said. "That (game against Texas) was pretty special for me."

FELIX DOUBRONT was added to the playoff roster. And while it appears he was chosen over a fellow left-hander, Matt Thornton, it was actually a choice of Ryan Dempster over Thornton.

Dempster, a starter like Doubront, was going to be the long reliever. Now Doubront will fill that role and Dempster may be used at any time.

"It came down basically to the ability to go long," Farrell said of Doubront. That "opens up some flexibility for Dempster. We don't have to hold him back or use him exclusively as an early guy.

"If we feel like there's a match-up that's in our advantage, whether it's middle inning, late in game, (Dempster) is a possibility in that spot."

Doubront faltered badly in his one relief appearance Sunday -- five runs in 11/3 innings.

XANDER BOGAERTS is on the playoff roster at age 21. He is only the third player 21 or younger to play in the postseason for Boston. He joins Babe Ruth (age 20 and 21 in the 1915 and 1916 World Series) and pitcher Ken Brett (age 19 in the 1967 World Series).

Bogaerts, who began the season with the Portland Sea Dogs, was his smiling self before the game.

"I'm sure I'll get nervous," he said, "but this is exciting."

ETC.: After Saturday's 5:37 p.m. game, the teams will take Sunday off and resume in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Monday at either 6 or 7 p.m., depending on other games being played. If there is a Game 4 on Tuesday, it will be at 8 or 8:30 p.m. Maddon said Jeremy Hellickson will start Game 4, if necessary.

Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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