Mike Napoli has known John Lackey a long time. They played together in Anaheim from 2006-09, when Napoli caught him 61 times (for a 3.63 ERA). They are now on the Red Sox, and with Napoli now a first baseman, their interaction is a bit different.

But Napoli doesn’t forget what his old batterymate used to be, and what a healthy Lackey could mean to the Sox.

“It’s going to mean a lot,” Napoli said about a healthy, productive Lackey, “especially when he pitches like that. We’re going to need him. Hopefully he stays healthy. When he’s healthy, I’ve seen him do good things on the baseball field.”

Lackey on Sunday earned the win with six strong innings in a 6-1 victory over Houston at Fenway Park. It came against the Astros, but there was encouragement all around after Lackey’s first start since straining his biceps April 6 in his first start in Toronto.

Lackey threw 81 pitches, retired 13 consecutive batters from the second through fifth innings, and ended the sixth by getting out of a bases-loaded jam. He gave up one earned run on five hits, striking out four and walking two.

It was 614 days between wins.

If Boston’s fifth starter is performing this well throughout the remainder of the season, then you can start printing playoff tickets.

When Lackey missed the 2012 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery late in the 2011 season, nobody had any idea what he might look like a year later.

Then he had the biceps issue in Toronto, when he grabbed his arm after throwing a pitch and was in great pain. The injury didn’t prove to be as serious as it looked. An MRI revealed only inflammation.

Lackey acknowledged after Sunday’s outing that he still feels something in the biceps and that his arm strength isn’t quite there yet. That “something” probably needs to go away before we can declare Lackey a success story.