Tim Wakefield entered the 2010 season just 17 wins behind Roger Clemens and Cy Young (192) for most wins in a Boston Red Sox uniform. He also hadn't won a game since July 8th of last year. And on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, he would be squaring off with Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay, who has been dominating the National League.
But with a knuckleball that was fluttering all over the strike zone, good defense behind him and Kevin Youkilis at the plate, Wakefield was finally able to pick up his first win of the 2010 campaign. It hasn't been easy for him this year as he started out the season in the rotation only to be bumped to the bullpen when Daisuke Matsuzaka was activated from the DL.
He had made four appearances out of the bullpen with mixed results but he's now filled in twice for an injured Josh Beckett and thrown the ball well. Yesterday, he had the good knuckleball going as he was able to throw 68 of his 102 pitches for strikes. He retired all eight leadoff hitters he faced threw 18 first pitch strikes to the 31 batters he faced. When you can do this, good things are going to happen.
Besides his one strikeout, he got 17 fly ball outs letting his defense do their jobs as well as getting six ground ball outs.
Throughout all of this, Wake has been a model teammate, not throwing Terry Francona or anyone else under the bus. He just goes out and takes care of his business when he's called upon. But if he continues to pitch like this, he's definitely going to make Francona's decision-making on the starting rotation a little harder.
The Red Sox have now gotten four great starts in their last five with John Lackey being the lone exception. And with the Yankees losing five of their last six and the Red Sox winning five of their last six, the gap between the two teams is now just 2½ games. Of course their opponent for the next three games, the Tampa Bay Rays, are showing no signs of letting up as they lead the Red Sox by 8½ games, the Toronto Blue Jays by seven games and the Yankees by six games.
While a sweep of the Rays would go a long way, taking two of three from the Rays would be just as nice. And with Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester on the mound the first two nights, this could happen. But the Red Sox will definitely be out for a little revenge as the Rays swept four games from the local nine back in mid-April.
We'll be back later with tonight's lineups, batter/pitcher matchups, news and links from the day but for now enjoy the overnight linkage.