One of the most controversial moments from Game 5 in Anaheim on Thursday night came when manager Mike Scioscia removed starter John Lackey from the game in the 7th. Considering Darren Oliver came on in relief and gave up a 3-run double to Mark Teixeira on his first pitch and a game-tying RBI single to Hideki Matsui, the move by Scioscia looked awful. Making matters even worse was Kevin Jepsen who gave up a two-run triple to Robinson Cano to make it 6-4 Yankees within four batters of Lackey leaving the game. As if Lackey wasn’t already pissed off enough about being taken out of a game where he had a shutout going, seeing the bullpen blow the lead had to rip his heart out.
Non-Angel fans may have simply seen the move as what it was: John Lackey being pissed he was taken out of a shutout by his manager and the bullpen blew it. Angel fans will tell you that that move had much deeper repercussions; John Lackey is going to be a free agent after the year and being removed from his shutout could very well be his lasting moment with the team. Do you think he’ll be eager about going back to the Angels and a manager that didn’t trust him enough to get the final out of the 7th in the ALCS? I know a lot of people will say that Lackey was losing it and that going to Oliver was the right move, but once I saw that fire in Lackey’s eyes I would have given him another batter. The guy is a bonafide competitor and when you see that look coming from him you have to let him settle his score. Or maybe that’s just me speaking from the perspective of a former pitcher who’s said to his manager “This is mine, this is mine.”
I really hope that’s not John Lackey’s last moment as an Angel — it would be an utter shame. I rather see him pitch in Game 1 and Game 5 of the World Series and re-sign with the team. They’d have a tough time repeating without an ice like him.