Boston Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey was having a great outing in game two of the World Series when he ran into some trouble in the seventh inning. Red Sox manager John Farrell replaced Lackey with Craig Breslow when Lackey ran into some trouble, which turned out to be a terrible decision.
Lackey had given up only one run entering the seventh inning and the Red Sox were leading two to one. He struck out St. Louis Cardinals’ second baseman Allen Craig, but then allowed the next two runners to reach base.
Farrell made a controversial decision by going to the mound to replace Lackey with Craig Breslow after both Cardinals’ hitters reached base. Breslow and Junichi Tazawa ended up giving three runs that inning to give the Cardinals a lead they would maintain the rest of the game, four to two.
Lackey had not reached 100 pitches yet, so he could have pitched himself out of the jam. It is surprising that Farrell would not trust Lackey to get out of the jam when he had been so dominant prior to the seventh inning.
It is unknown why Farrell replaced Lackey with Breslow. It could have to deal with former Red Sox manager Grady Little’s decision to allow starting pitcher Pedro Martinez to pitch out of an eighth-inning jam during Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series.
Martinez gave up three runs to allow the New York Yankees to tie the score at five, which erased a five-to-two deficit. The media and the organization blamed Farrell for the 2003 ALCS defeat and it cost him his job.
Farrell must have consciously feared that he would have ended up suffering the same fate as Little, if Lackey allowed the Cardinals to erase a two-to-one deficit. Lackey probably would have pitched his way out of that jam because the Cardinals’ hitters were having trouble producing against him.
Farrell has to hope that his decision to trust the bullpen over Lackey in that situation does not cost the Red Sox the World Series.