Two weeks ago, I begged other Cubs fans to watch John Lackey pitch this October.
After his performance both on the mound and leaving it Thursday night, I again step before Cubs Nation at large and submit that Lackey should be Cubs' GM Jim Hendry's top target in free agency this winter.
Lackey showed, yet again, that he's a big game pitcher. He came out dealing and battled through more miserable "work" from umpires to keep the Angels in the lead into the seventh inning.
In that seventh, after a fourth ball call for Jorge Posada that was (as least) questionable and then a walk to Derek Jeter, Angels manager Mike Scioscia came out to remove Lackey from the game. The Angels had a four-run lead.
Lackey's reaction, part of which you see in the photo on this article, is what I loved about him. The ball call to Posada was horsecrap, let's just put it out there. And Lackey was demonstrative in his reaction, and noticeably rattled as he walked Jeter.
But when Scioscia got as far as the top step of the Angels' dugout, Lackey's mouth could clearly be read as saying, "This is mine, coach. This is mine."
Lackey was a man, and wanted nothing to do with his manager taking the ball from him.
But when Lackey got to the dugout, there wasn't a need for a Gatorade dispenser to press assault charges. There wasn't a bat-to-water fountain incident. There wasn't a tantrum worthy of YouTube.
Lackey went to the clubhouse, cooled off, and then joined his teammates back on the bench, now trailing 6-4 (thanks, Darren Oliver).
Absolutely NOTHING I saw from Lackey on Thursday night was anywhere close to the Chicago Cubs' bench in 2009. Not only did he win a game in October against the Red Sox (paying attention, Carlos Zambrano?), but he was a bulldog against the best lineup in baseball again tonight.
His line wasn't spectacular tonight: 6.2 innings pitched, six hits, three walks, three earned runs (thanks, Darren Oliver), seven strikeouts. But his approach, and his attitude in the heat of battle, is what I love.
You can click on the link I put earlier in this piece to read my reasons for wanting Lackey rather than Rich Harden next year. But, again, John Lackey is sitting atop my Winter Wish List for Jim Hendry.