ARLINGTON, Texas — Red Sox righthander John Lackey grew up in Abilene, about 2½ hours west of Globe Life Park. After graduating high school, he attended the University of Texas at Arlington and played mostly first base at a field just a few miles away from where he will pitch on Sunday against the Texas Rangers.
Lackey lives in Fort Worth and has Cowboys season tickets at massive AT&T Stadium, which sits just across the parking lot from the ballpark.
“I’ve been around here most of my life it seems,” Lackey said on Saturday.
So many of his family and friends will attend the game on Sunday that Lackey rented a suite for the weekend.
“It’s been great sleeping in my own bed and seeing everybody,” he said. “But now I have to pitch.”
Lackey’s start will be his 20th at Globe Life Park, the most for a visiting player. He is 7-7 with a 6.61 earned run average.
“I like coming here. But it’s a terrible place to pitch,” he said. “I’d rather be pitching back at Fenway, trust me.”
Lackey made his major league debut for the Angels on June 24, 2002, at what was then called The Ballpark at Arlington. He went seven innings and allowed three runs but took the loss against a powerful Texas lineup that included Pudge Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, and Rafael Palmeiro.
“They’ve always had good lineups and this park is a tough one for pitchers,” Lackey said. “You do the best you can.”
Lackey beat Texas at Fenway on April 7, giving up one unearned run on five hits over seven innings in a game the Sox won, 5-1. He has been sharp of late, allowing five earned runs on 18 hits over 22 innings in his last three starts. Lackey has walked four and struck out 20 in that stretch.
Manager John Farrell said good location has been the key for Lackey, who is 4-2 overall with a 3.72 ERA.
“When you look to the fastball command to both sides of the plate, that for John is where things really center around,” Farrell said. “He’s got a breaking ball he can go to at seemingly any point in time in the count.”
A feel-good story
Shane Victorino played in only 10 games during spring training because of injury issues then opened the season on the disabled list because of a strained right hamstring.
But since being activated on April 19, Victorino has been out of the lineup only twice. The 33-year-old believes the physical issues that bothered him last season and lingered into spring training are past.
“Knock on wood, I’ve felt fine,” said Victorino, who went 3 for 4 with four RBIs in Saturday’s win. “The problems that I had last year, especially with my back, haven’t bothered me.”
Victorino was held out of some spring training games to work on strengthening some core muscles under the direction of therapist Dan Dyrek. That work, he said, appears to have paid off.
“It gave me a chance to get ahead of it a little and get ready for the season. It definitely helped,” Victorino said. “It was frustrating when I ended up on the disabled list with the hamstring because I was ready to go.”
The only days off Victorino has had since returning were for routine rest.
“There have been no restrictions as far as the way he’s moved, the range he’s shown in right field. He’s responded daily,” Farrell said. “It’s been as expected.”
Bogaerts banged up
Xander Bogaerts came away limping in the fourth inning on Friday night when a sliding Leonys Martin spiked his left knee at second base.
Martin was trying to steal second and the throw from catcher A.J. Pierzynski put Bogaerts in a position where his knee landed in front of the bag. The shortstop came away with several small cuts and a bruise.
“I wasn’t trying to do that. It just happened,” said Bogaerts before he put up an 0-for-5 with two strikeouts Saturday night. “I was just trying to make a play.”
Ideally, Bogaerts would have straddled the base and applied the tag.
“Because of the closeness of the play he was in the middle of it,” Farrell said.
Will Middlebrooks was hit on the heel of his right hand by a pitch from Justin Germano in the eighth inning. He stayed in the game and expects to play on Sunday. Middlebrooks broke his right wrist when he was hit by a pitch in 2012 and wraps it to this day . . . The Red Sox had lost five straight games at Globe Life Park, the last win coming July 24, 2012 . . . The Red Sox lead the season series with the Rangers, 3-2, with one game to play. Texas had won the season series five years in a row . . . Mike Napoli, who walked twice, has reached base in 30 consecutive games . . . Andrew Miller, who got the final out, has gone 11 innings without a walk while striking out 17.
The pink Sox
Most of the Red Sox players will use pink equipment on Sunday, Mother’s Day, to raise awareness for breast cancer research and treatment. Victorino, a connoisseur of snazzy footwear, has two sets of pink cleats he plans to wear in the game. Other players will use pink bats, wristbands, and other gear . . . When Ortiz broke up Darvish’s no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning on Friday, it kept intact a long streak for the Red Sox. The Sox haven’t been no-hit since April 22, 1993, when Chris Bosio of the Seattle Mariners did it. Only the Phillies (1978), Cubs (1991), and Athletics (1991) have gone longer. There have been 60 no-hitters in baseball since Bosio’s. The one hit on Friday was the fewest for the Red Sox since Sept. 28, 2012, when they were held to one hit by Baltimore’s Chris Tillman and Troy Patton.