John Lackey, 37, stole the spotlight in his return Monday night, pitching seven shutout innings and striking out an 11 against his former team, ultimately leading the Chicago Cubs’ to a 5-0 victory at the Busch Stadium.
“You saw the focus [Lackey] had tonight, he was on top of his game,’’ said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who celebrated the team’s victory with a glass of 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and a spoonful of a colon cleanser, to USA Today. “Just real quality pitches all evening long. Everything was working.’’
John Lackey for Chicago Cubs. Source: Chicago Tribune
Lackey, who became only the 16th pitcher to beat every team in the major leagues, as well as becoming only the third active pitcher to eclipse the 2,500-inning mark, did not give the Cardinals a single chance. He induced 22 swings-and-misses and struck out at least one batter every inning. The top five hitters in the lineup managed to hit the ball out of the infield just three times.
Last season, it was the same Lackey who went 13-10 with a 2.77 ERA for the Cardinals, leading them to the National League Central Division title with 100 victories.
Lackey playing for his former team Cardinals. Source: the ONION
“He was a big part of our club last year,’’ Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
“I thought he did a nice job of being a good example for our young players how to prepare, and how to compete, and how to work. It’s hard to imagine we’d have the kind of season we had without him. I was happy to have him.’’
Sadly Lackey, who has signed a $32 million contract with the Chicago Cubs, will be playing against the Cardinals for the next two years.
10 strikeouts on the night, and 2,500 career innings pitched!
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 19, 2016
“I kind of like this sort of situation,’’ Lackey said, grinning. “I had a great time playing here. No hard feelings. They went in a different direction. And I ended up in a great place.’’
Looks like Lackey’s having a pretty good time playing for the Cubs!