Los Angeles Angels ace John Lackey usually needs a few starts at the beginning of the season before finding his groove. Less than two weeks into the season, though, he already appears to be in top form.
On Friday night, Lackey looks to continue his strong start when the Angels visit the Boston Red Sox, a team that has frustrated him throughout his career.
Los Angeles (6-4) has lost three of its last four games following a 5-1 start—its best since 1970. The Angels lost to Cleveland 4-2 on Thursday, dropping two of three in their series played in Milwaukee.
Lackey (2-0, 0.75 ERA) gave up one run and seven hits in seven innings of Saturday’s 2-1 win over Oakland after allowing an unearned run in five innings of a 4-1 win over Texas on April 2.
“It’s kind of different for me. I usually take one or two (starts) to get my feet wet,” said Lackey, who allowed five runs in four innings of his first start last year.
While Lackey is looking sharp early, he hasn’t had much success in his career against Boston (4-4). The right-hander is just 1-4 with a 5.86 ERA in nine career starts against the Red Sox with the Angels winning only one of those games.
His only victory against them came July 30 at Fenway Park during which he allowed four runs in six innings as Los Angeles won 10-4. Lackey is 1-2 with a 7.11 ERA in five career starts in Boston.
The Angels split six games with the Red Sox last season, but took two of three at Fenway Park.
Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez is off to a slow start, batting just .214 (6-for-28) without a home run, but that could change against Lackey. Ramirez, who hit 35 homers last season, didn’t hit his first until his 17th game and is 9-for-18 with four homers, three doubles and 11 RBIs in his career against Lackey.
Tim Wakefield (0-1, 1.50) takes the hill for Boston in this game, hoping his offense can give him some support. Wakefield gave up one earned run in six innings in his first start of the season, a 2-0 loss to Texas on Friday.
The 40-year-old knuckleballer received a total of just six runs of support in his 11 losses last season, and has received one or fewer runs of support in four of his last six games against Los Angeles.
“I don’t care about last year,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona told the team’s official Web site. “If we start thinking like that, this year is going to be a long year. He pitched well. If he pitches like that, we’ll be just fine.”
Wakefield is 8-10 with a 4.71 ERA in 25 career appearances, including 20 starts, against the Angels, but hasn’t faced them since Sept. 6, 2005, when he threw an eight-hitter in a 3-2 victory at Fenway Park. The right-hander is 3-4 with a 5.09 ERA in nine career starts against Los Angeles in Boston.
Angels right fielder Vladimir Guerrero is off to strong start this season, batting .405 (15-for-37). He went 2-for-3 on Thursday, knocking in his 11th RBI in the loss to the Indians. The 2004 AL MVP also is hitting .462 (6-for-13) with four home runs and six RBIs in his career against Wakefield.
After splitting its first two games against Seattle, the Red Sox’s series finale with the Mariners was postponed Thursday due to poor weather and will be made up on May 3.
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