BOSTON -- Takeaways from Yawkey Way, where they’re going to have to come up with a new marketing name for those hockey games they play here in January, seeing how “Frozen Fenway” is already reserved for baseball in April.
Ignoring the ridiculous weather conditions were thousands of hardy New Englanders and one very sturdy Texan, John Derran Lackey, who went eight strong innings against the Tampa Bay Rays in an impressive encore to last week’s no-walk, 11-whiff masterpiece against the Yankees, a game manager John Farrell called Lackey’s best in a Sox uniform.
The results: Breaking a 1-1 tie with five runs in the sixth, the Red Sox beat the Rays, 7-4, before a paid crowd of 34,794 in Fenway Park, where the temperature at first pitch was announced as 42 degrees, which doesn’t begin to explain the icicles hanging from Mike Napoli’s beard. [OK, so maybe we exaggerate just a little].
Uplifting Lackey: The 35-year-old right-hander allowed just two hits over five scoreless innings, was touched for single runs in the sixth and seventh, but finished with a 1-2-3 eighth for his fourth win in six decisions. He gave up six hits, walked just one and struck out five. In his four wins, Lackey has allowed just five earned runs; he gave up 12 earned runs in 11 innings in his two losses.
Bats thawing: The Sox have scored seven or more runs in three of their last four games, which, of course, coincides with the return of Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks to the lineup. Victorino, who had gone 2-for-15 since his return Thursday, got into the act with a 4-for-4 night and a sacrifice fly, driving in two runs. Middlebrooks walked and doubled and scored two runs.
Bottoms up: There has been much discussion about who should bat lead off for the Sox, but the 7-8-9 combination of A.J. Pierzynski, Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr. has been prolific on the two occasions that Farrell has used it. In Toronto on Friday night, the three combined to go 8-for-12 with five runs and four RBIs, and Tuesday night, the tally was 5-for-11 with four runs scored and four RBIs. And that doesn’t even count Pierzynski’s grand slam on Saturday.
Bradley had two doubles, Pierzynski two singles, and Middlebrooks a double and a walk Tuesday night.
Sniffing at .500 again: The Sox have been within a game of .500 six times since they were 2-3, and have lost all six times. They’re at 13-14 and will have another crack at .500 in their next game (Wednesday’s game is iffy because of the weather). They haven’t been at .500 since they were 2-2.
Napoli wears ‘em down: In five plate appearances Tuesday, Napoli saw 33 pitches.
Mujica mystery: Reliever Edward Mujica, who gave up a couple of runs in the ninth, walked just five batters in 64 2/3 innings last season. With a walk in two-thirds of an inning Tuesday, Mujica already has issued four walks in nine innings this season.
Koji time: Koji Uehera struck out Ben Zobrist on three pitches to end the game and earn his sixth save.