John Lackey had his best start as a member of the Red Sox. Jamie Moyer had the worst of his career.

Earlier this season, David Ortiz and John Lackey weren’t producing for the Boston Red Sox. Ortiz couldn’t get on base and Lackey had a tough time keeping men off them. Surely enough, to keep the success train running for the Red Sox, an ineffective Jamie Moyer cured Ortiz’s woes, and an anemic Philadelphia Phillies offense did the same for Lackey’s.

Moyer, 47 years young, has been tremendously effective during his golden years, but his 84 mile-per-hour fastball and assortment of slow off-speed pitches didn’t fool Boston’s bats. Ortiz, who had been mired in a 3-28 slump to start the month of June, especially proved troublesome. He doubled in Victor Martinez as part of a five-run first inning that culminated in a two-run shot by Mike Lowell , then sent Moyer to the showers by socking the Red Sox third consecutive double and fourth hit of the second inning. By the time reliever David Herndon obtained the third out of the frame, it was 9-0 in Boston.

Lackey, even with his recent struggles, would have a tough time squandering this early advantage. But for his sake, it was uplifting to see the Phillies reputably dangerous offense still cold. Good pitching has done them in, but their doom has also been impatience and simply trying too hard. During the series opener, it was a combination of the three. Lackey possessed control Boston had yet to see from their big offseason investment, and his pitch-count was relatively low due to Philadelphia’s over aggressiveness.

Thanks in part to a two-run single by Ortiz in the third that increased his season rbi-total to 39, Lackey was staked a 12-0 lead heading to the mound in the top of the fourth. Now, a win was firmly in the Red Sox grasp, and the 31-year old right hander made it even more so, limiting the Phillies to one run in the fourth after running into substantial trouble. He allowed just one run over the next three innings, and finished his seven innings pitched by throwing 62 of his 86 pitches for strikes and allowing six hits while walking no one.

In winning by the final score of 12-2, Boston socked 17 hits. Their offense has been producing at a high rate of late, and most of the pop has come from the middle of their lineup. Martinez, whose average has risen 50 points over the past month, has been their catalyst. He scored twice and had two RBI doubles. And Kevin Youkilis , who had the night off but is batting well over .300, have picked up an offense that has missed lead-off spark Jacoby Ellsbury , and hasn’t received expected production from former-MVP Dustin Pedroia . With unsurprising performance of Martinez, Youkilis, offseason signee Adrian Beltre , and now Ortiz, Boston has worked their way into the American League East race.

It’s early June with plenty of baseball left, but the Red Sox are paving themselves a pretty comfortable path. They have amassed 35 wins. Ortiz slumped for a long period of time to begin season. Ellsbury has been on the shelf. Pedroia hasn’t been himself. Marco Scutaro has been hot and cold. And prior to this excellent start by Lackey, solid pitching has been scarce. Clay Buchholz has been their ace, and Jon Lester , aside from last night’s struggles, has been dependable. But as a whole, the staff has underachieved. When not injured, Josh Beckett has been disastrous. Daisuke Matsuzak a has been wild. Tim Wakefield has served batting practice far too often. Lackey hasn’t made a smooth transition to the American League East. All of their troubles and the team is still only four games out of first place with a record of 36-27.

The Yankees have agonizingly watched slugger Mark Teixeira bat near the dreaded Mendoza Line, but are only a game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for first place. Given his struggles, their success is a scary thought. And likewise, just imagine if Lackey and Ortiz can deliver like they did against Philadelphia on a regular basis, and the likes of Ellsbury and Pedroia are able to return to full-strength; how deadly Boston would be in that amazingly competitive division once August and September come around.

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