BOSTON — John Farrell announced Wednesday Jon Lester will be the Game 1 starter Friday and John Lackey will get the starting nod for Game 2 Saturday at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox manager made the announcement in his weekly appearance on WEEI. Boston will face either Tampa Bay or Cleveland in a best-of-five American League Divisional Series. The Rays met the Indians last night in Cleveland.
Farrell said the Game 3 starter on the road will be Clay Buchholz. If necessary, Jake Peavy will get the Game 4 start and if the series goes to a fifth and deciding game at Fenway Park, Lester would take the hill.
Lester, Lackey, Buchholz and Peavy are a combined 41-23 (.641) with a 3.33 ERA for the Red Sox this season.
Farrell said he took into consideration what Lackey had accomplished at Fenway Park. In 13 home starts covering 91 innings, Lackey is 6-3 with an ERA of 2.47. Opponents are hitting just .232 against him.
It’s a far different story on the road where Lackey was 4-10 with a 4.48 ERA.
Lackey pitched twice in Tampa Bay this season and didn’t fare well. In a 5-3 loss on May 14, Lackey lasted 4-1/3-innings, allowing nine hits and five earned runs. He walked one and fanned three. On June 10 in a no decision outing, Lackey pitched 5-2/3-innings, allowing 10 hits including two homers. He walked one, fanned two and was charged with four earned runs. The Red Sox won that game, 10-8.
Lackey faced Cleveland once this season, at Fenway Park on May 24. In an 8-1 win, Lackey threw 109 pitches in seven innings. He allowed two hits and the run off him was unearned. He whiffed three and fanned eight.
“His home-road splits are pretty clear, and he feels comfortable and confident pitching here at Fenway,” said Farrell of Lackey on WEEI.
In the post-season, Lackey has appeared in nine total series, all with the Angels.In 14 post-season games including 12 starts, Lackey has allowed 75 hits, four homers, 29 walks and 29 earned runs in 78 innings. He has struck out 53 batters and his playoff ERA is 3.12.Lester finished strong this season, posting a 7-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 13 starts after the All-Star break. He closed the season with a 15-8 overall record and a 3.75 ERA.
“He’s (Lester) been outstanding in the second half, and the last eight starts that he’s put together for us, he’s been very strong, and he’ll lead the way for us from a starting standpoint,” said Farrell.
Buchholz making the playoff roster and starting the third game gives the Red Sox a positive jolt. He missed three months with a strained neck before coming back. In four game starts in September, he allowed 18 hits, seven runs (five earned) and seven walks in 24 innings. He fanned 15 and his ERA was 1.82.
For the season he was 12-1 overall with a 1.74 ERA.
Buchholz told WEEI “I’ll pitch whenever they want me to. It’s the first game on the road. The last couple of years, I’ve felt comfortable on the road. Obviously I’d like to pitch in front of the fans here (at home) but you’ve got to win in both places anyway. Hopefully we can do well in these first two games here and take it from there.”
In a six-inning intrasquad scrimmage at Fenway Park Wednesday, according to ESPN Boston, Buchholz allowed a run on three hits, He fanned three in three innings of work. Peavy struck out five in three scoreless frames. Lackey, Ryan Dempster, Craig Breslow, Koji Uehara, Franklin Morales, Felix Doubront and Brandon Workman all threw a scoreless frame.
Farrell told ESPN Boston he intends to carry 11 pitchers, but has yet to finalize his 25-man roster. It appeared heading into Thursday, Farrell was leaning towards adding left-hander Matt Thornton and outfielder Quintin Berry, who robbed Dustin Pedroia Wednesday with a full extension diving catch in right field in the third inning.