Rangers get 7 in 2nd off Lackey, beat Angels 12-1
That was obvious by John Lackey’s performance Friday night against an offense that hasn’t stopped swinging the bats since opening day and never had enough pitching to back it up.
Hank Blalock homered in his fifth straight game to trigger a seven-run second inning against Lackey, and the Rangers routed the AL West champion Angels 12-1 for their third straight victory.
Lackey (12-5) gave up 12 hits and a career-worst 10 runs over 2 2-3 innings in the shortest of his 206 big league starts.
“They came out hacking and beat me up a little bit,” said Lackey, who had a career-high 12 strikeouts against Texas last Sunday in a 7-3 win at Arlington. “Tonight it was a little different because you don’t know how far you’re going to go tonight. I mean, I obviously wanted to do better than that, but it’s a different feel. This won’t affect my next start at all.”
The right-hander is slated to start the division series opener next Wednesday at Angel Stadium against the Red Sox, who swept Los Angeles in the first round last year en route to their second World Series title in four seasons.
Lackey is 2-2 with a 3.63 ERA in seven postseason starts. In 2002 he beat San Francisco 4-1 in the World Series clincher, becoming the first rookie to win a Game 7 since Babe Adams of Pittsburgh in 1909.
Despite their second-most lopsided loss of the season, the Angels (99-61) clinched the best record in the majors for the first time in the franchise’s 48-year history and home field advantage throughout the postseason earlier Friday when Tampa Bay lost 6-4 at Detroit.
“It’s very important. Everybody knows that,” center fielder Torii Hunter said. “We were trying to fight for home field advantage, and we did what we said we were going to do.”
Lackey threw 73 pitches, 26 in the second before recording an out as the first seven batters reached base. Blalock’s 12th homer snapped a 1-1 tie, rookie Chris Davis singled home a run, Joaquin Arias followed with an RBI double, Michael Young doubled home two more and Marlon Byrd capped the rally with two-run single.
“We came out swinging and didn’t let Lackey get in any kind of rhythm,” manager Ron Washington said. “The last time we saw him we made him throw 50-something pitches—and when you looked up, he was still in there in the seventh. But tonight was our night and wasn’t his. When he made mistakes, we didn’t miss it.”
Josh Hamilton was 3-for-4 with a home run and the Rangers hit six doubles to tie the major league record of 373, shared by the 1930 St. Louis Cardinals, the 1997 Boston Red Sox and the 2004 World Series champion Red Sox.
“They’re always trying to get better, but it just hasn’t worked out for them,” said Angels first baseman and former Ranger Mark Teixeira. “I was there for almost five years, and it seemed like every year we had a different plan. But none of them panned out.”
Vicente Padilla (14-8) allowed a run and four hits over six innings and struck out eight in his 29th and final start. The right-hander tied the club record of 11 road victories, and held an opponent to fewer than two earned runs for the ninth time.
The Rangers’ third straight win, coupled with Oakland’s loss at Seattle, clinched second place for the Rangers. It’s the first time they’ve finished higher than third since winning the AL West in 1999.
Young scored two runs, raising his total to 101 and making him the first player in franchise history to score 100 or more in four different seasons. Davis was 4-for-4 with an RBI single in the No. 9 spot.
When the Angels took the field for the fourth, manager Mike Scioscia removed his entire starting lineup all at once—except for right fielder Juan Rivera, who shifted to left with Kendry Morales taking over in right. DH Vladimir Guerrero also got the rest of the night off.
Lackey, who missed the first 41 games of this season because of a biceps strain, finished with a 3.75 ERA and tied the franchise record with a winning record for the fifth straight year. He is 72-43 in 155 starts over the last five seasons with a 3.74 ERA.
Francisco Rodriguez, who broke the major league season saves record on Sept. 13, was presented with the Gene Autry Trophy as Angels MVP. … With the Dodgers clinching the NL West title on Thursday, this will be is the second time both of Southern California’s teams will enter the postseason as division champions in the same year. It also occurred in 2004.