Lackey puts Napoli, infield to good use

John Lackey got 12 outs on ground balls, including this nifty play. AP Photo/Charles Krupa

BOSTON -- After answering a handful of questions about his own performance Friday night following an 8-1 win over the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox right-hander John Lackey made a point to compliment first baseman Mike Napoli for his solid defensive play.

"I was coming in on a lot of left-handers," Lackey said. "He had a lot of action, made some great plays for me. Good team effort."

Indeed, while Napoli deserves loads of credit for his stellar play with the glove, the entire infield was on its game. And it had to be, for Lackey was getting the Cleveland hitters to pound everything into the ground. In addition to eight strikeouts, he recorded 12 outs on the ground and just one through the air in seven stellar innings.

Lackey himself made a nice sliding stop on his knees of a ball that was dying to the right of the mound. Other gems stood out.

There was Dustin Pedroia's remarkable backhand stab and glove-flip to start an inning-ending double play in the second. Napoli made a diving stab with a man on for the second out of the sixth. And brand-new third baseman Jose Iglesias made his only two chances, neither of which were routine, look easy.

While Lackey was on the mound, Napoli himself handled five balls, taking three of them to the bag on his own and feeding Lackey for two others.

"Nap played a great game at first," Lackey said.