Ladies and gentlemen, your Game 3 starter — John Lackey.

Words that once sounded borderline vomitous are becoming mildly palatable.

Lackey may never be the guy the Red Sox [team stats] thought they were getting when they signed him to an $82.5 million free agent contract two winters ago. But neither is he the hopeless mess he was for most of the first half of this season when he literally owned the worst ERA of any full-time starter in the big leagues.

Last night provided the latest glimpse into his relative resurgence during an 11-5 victory over the Rangers in Lackey's personal house of horrors. He wasn't great, but he was more than good enough. He protected a lead, limited the damage, and pitched into the seventh inning.

In other words, he was exactly what he is — on his good days a slightly above-average pitcher with a slightly above-average ability to pitch deep into games. Combine that with his postseason experience — he has won Game 7 of a World Series, as well as started four playoff Game 1s — and the Sox should have a chance when he makes an inevitable start this October.