John Lackey played for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of the United States of America of the Planet Earth from 2002-2009. That is seven years; his whole career up to this year. With them he won the World Series in ’02, was an All Star in ’07 and also won the ERA title that same year. For those seven years, the rather suggestively named “Big Johnson” was synonymous with the Halos.
But this past offseason, the Angels didn’t push for him. Given his success, they knew he would command a salary similar to what AJ Burnett recieved when he went to New York, so they decided to pass on their ace.
Last night, Lackey was able to make people shake their heads from 2,579 miles away. You can bet that quite a few fans over in Anaheim are going to be sending Tony Reagins some stern emails. It was appropriate, actually, that on a night where Nomar was honored for returning to the team he was best known for, Lackey destroys the team that made him.
In the first at-bat of the game, Erik Aybar struck out looking on a 95 mph cutter. It was the fifth pitch of the at-bat, none of which Aybar made any sort of contact with. As the cutter sailed into Martinez mit, Aybar looked absolutely lost. That was pretty much how the game went for the Angels as a whole.
Lackey was dazzling, giving up only two hits and one run, a solo shot in the fifth, over seven innings. He struck out four of his former teammates, and the sheer amount of ground balls he generated was fantastic. Nobody could do anything with him. He was good. He was really good.
You could actually make a case for Lackey being the best starter on the team so far. If you take away that one bad outing on Marathon Monday morning, his stats look quite a bit better; he gives up a mere eight runs over 33.2 innings. Nice. He leads the team in innings pitched, and although Buchholz has a lower ERA he has a higher WHIP. Let’s hope he continues along this path.
Tonight’s matchup features two pitchers reknowned for their inability to hit the strikezone: Daisuke Matsuzaka vs. Scott Kazmir. This one could be a long one. But then again, Dice-K was looking really sharp through the first four innings of his last start before things fell apart in the fifth. It was, after all, his first start of the season, so we need to cut him some slack. Should be a good, even if frustrating, game to watch. Not to jinx anything, but here’s hoping we can break out the brooms.