On Tuesday night, the Colorado Rockies are set to play their second game of the day after a decisive 10-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs earlier. The Cubs’ starting pitcher, John Lackey, began his Major League career 15 years ago with the Anaheim Angels, when none other than Rockies manager Bud Black was his pitching coach.
That was the same year that rookie Lackey pitched in Game 7 of the World Series to secure the Angels the title.
“That was eight innings of rookie pitching in Game 7, but John really stepped up in that season, and in the second half,” Black recalled.
And while no one player can ever take credit for a win in a team-oriented game like baseball, Black chalked a lot of that game’s success to the skipper.
“If you look at the playoff run, it was a collection of, really, we had to outscore the opposition in some games and we had to out-pitch them in some games,” Black said. “Any time you win, I think you look back and there was timely hitting, there was clutch pitching, there was good defense. That’s what it takes to win. He had five scoreless innings and gave up one run.”
Since a decade and a half ago, not much has changed for the pitcher, who’s had quite the storied career while bouncing around clubhouses, from the Angels to the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.
“You know there’s a lot of similarities between 2002 and 2017,” Black said. “He’s had a great career—a couple World Series even beyond the Anaheim year of 2002. But as far as how he pitches, he’s really the same pitcher—same competitor, same emotion.
“I’m sure as a person, he’s matured, but I think at the core he’s the same guy as a pitcher, which is rare 15 years later. He’s still the same pitcher, good fastball, hard breaking ball. What he’s doing now, it’s creating a few different arm angles. That’s a little bit of a change for John. But as far as the disposition, the demeanor, and the spirit, same as 2002.”
The Rockies and Cubs have set first pitch for around 6:40, when Lackey will face off with Rockies rookie Kyle Freeland. They will undoubtedly be in search of redemption from earlier in the day.