Two pitches into his return to the mound after recovering from a strained right forearm, the Angels' ace -- and proud Texan -- was ejected by home-plate umpire Bob Davidson on Saturday afternoon.
Lackey's first pitch to Kinsler was behind the Texas leadoff man. The second delivery by the 6-foot-6 right-hander caught Kinsler in the left side.
Davidson immediately gave Lackey the heave-ho, bringing Angels manager Mike Scioscia racing out of the dugout.
Not since Colorado's Zach Day lasted only two pitches on Sept. 16, 2005, has a starter departed a game so quickly.
Stressing that the last thing he wanted to do was increase the burden on a taxed Angels bullpen, Lackey was adamant that he was not trying to harm Kinsler, adding that six weeks of rust and a little extra adrenaline probably figured in his command issues.
"There was no intention whatsoever to throw behind him or hit him," Lackey said after the Angels' 5-3 loss. "If you know anything about me, I would go straight to the source if I was going to do something. I would tell you if I was going to do something and tell you if I did.
"I would stand up and own it. Absolutely, I was definitely shocked."
Lackey, who hails from Abilene, Texas, made two Minor League rehab starts for Triple-A Salt Lake to reach the stamina level he felt he needed to pitch in a Major League game.
"I was a little extra amped up, being my first time out there," Lackey said. "I feel terrible about it. Two days ago, the bullpen got worked, and [on Friday] night, it got worked. It's not something we needed.
"I'm a lot smarter than that. If I was going to do something, it wouldn't be the first hitter of the game. No excuses. I just launched two of them."
Kinsler wasn't sure what to make of the incident.
"I don't know what that was all about or what he was trying to prove," Kinsler said. "I play the game the right way. I came here to compete, to play hard and to win."
Kinsler homered twice in Friday night's series opener taken by the Rangers, 10-8.
The umpiring crew was well aware of that, along with some history -- ancient history, the Angels would say -- between the clubs, dating back to 2006.
Lackey did not draw a warning after the first pitch sailed behind Kinsler.
"As wrong as we know Bob was in his evaluation of that, it certainly wasn't John's intent," Scioscia said. "It's not the way we operate. There's no history between Lackey and Kinsler."
Lackey said he had "no bad blood" with the Rangers, adding that "most of our people weren't even here" when previous incidents developed with Texas and the Angels.
Crew chief Tim Tschida, stationed at third base on Saturday, addressed the incident.
"They banged the ball around pretty good last night," Tschida said, referring to the Rangers. "[Kinsler] hit two home runs. When the first pitch of the next game to that hitter is behind him, that's a red flag.
"We gave [Lackey] the benefit of the doubt, because maybe he was a little amped up coming off the DL. When he hit him with the second pitch, that was something else."
Tschida said the report to the American League office would be "pretty cut-and-dried." Umpires are not empowered to speculate on suspensions.
"I don't think so," Tschida said when asked if there would be a pregame meeting with the managers on Sunday. "I anticipate we'll play just like today."
With Shane Loux replacing Lackey, Kinsler stole second and came around to score, tying the game, on Josh Hamilton's sacrifice fly.
The game had been delayed 76 minutes by rain, creating less than ideal field conditions.
Kinsler robbed Maicer Izturis of a hit in the top of the first inning, as the Angels were taking a 1-0 lead against Vicente Padilla.
Before Saturday, Lackey's briefest start was the last time he visited Rangers Ballpark, lasting 2 2/3 innings on Sept. 26, 2008, and giving up 10 earned runs on 12 hits.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.