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Friday’s Red Sox-Athletics matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Gio Gonzalez 08.26.11 at 9:47 am ET
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The Red Sox will host the Athletics in the first game of a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park Friday night. The Red Sox will send knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (6-5, 4.97) to the mound as he goes after career win No. 200. He will be opposed by left-hander Gio Gonzalez (10-11, 3.24).

Wakefield will be seeking his 200th win for the sixth start in a row. He has two losses and three no-decisions since he won his 199th game back on July 24. He has pitched well in those five starts, allowing no more than four earned runs.

Wakefield originally was scheduled to pitch the series finale with the Rangers Thursday night, but manger Terry Francona announced earlier in the week that Andrew Miller would be starting and Wakefield would be pushed back to Friday.

Lifetime against the Athletics, in 41 appearances (30 starts), Wakefield has a 11-7 record and a 4.23 ERA. He has not faced the A’s this season.

After losing five starts in a row, Gonzalez bounced back in his last start on Aug. 20 when he earned the win in a 5-1 victory over the Blue Jays. He pitched eight innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out nine.

Gonzalez has struggled in August as he has allowed 15 earned runs in 25 1/3 innings and has an ERA of 5.33. He pitched against the Red Sox on April 20. He went six innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and suffered the loss. He did strike out nine Red Sox hitters. Over the course of his three-year career, Gonzalez has faced the Red Sox four times and has a 1-1 record with a 5.64 ERA.

The Athletics do not have much experience against Wakefield besides Hideki Matsui from when he was with the Yankees. In 66 plate appearances he is batting .203 with two home runs and 10 strikeouts.

The Red Sox have not seen much of Gonzalez, either. Only Mike Aviles has double-digit plate appearances against him. In 11 plate appearances he is hitting .250 with three strikeouts. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andrew miller, Gio Gonzlez, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield
Tim Wakefield’s unlucky run towards 200 wins 08.20.11 at 1:45 pm ET
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With a slightly different series of events, Tim Wakefield‘€™s chase of his 200th career victory would now long since be done. Instead, he might have been in position by now to be eying Roger Clemens and Cy Young for the top spot in the Red Sox‘€™ victory chart.

Instead, at a time when he is nearing a point that should permit him to take a bow in his career, he is dealing with an uncomfortable delay. In his own words (following his fourth straight unfulfilled attempt at career win No. 200), ‘€œthe Wake Watch’€ has commenced, in which the milestone is being obscured, in part, by the protracted journey to reach it.

Yet that isn’€™t a reflection of the pitcher’€™s performance. In four starts since claiming career victory No. 199 against the Mariners on July 24 (on a day when he allowed seven runs in 6 1/3 innings but received 12 runs of offensive support), Wakefield has enjoyed his most consistent stretch as a starter this year.

In four straight starts, he has pitched at least 6 2/3 innings while allowing four or fewer earned runs. He has a 4.08 ERA in that span.

Yet on a team that is second in the majors in both runs scored and runs per game, Wakefield has gone 0-2 with two no-decisions in those four games. To put that run in context, no Red Sox starter since Brad Penny in 2009 has been winless in four straight games in which he allowed four or fewer earned runs and pitched at least six innings in each outing. In order to find a streak of longer than four straight starts by a Sox pitcher that didn’€™t net a victory, you have to go back to a five-start stretch by Tomo Ohka in 2000.

It is part of a pattern that has existed throughout Wakefield’€™s Red Sox career. He now has 112 starts in which he has either been pinned with a loss (55 of those) or taken a no-decision (57) while pitching at least six innings and allowing four or fewer earned runs. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: cy young, Roger Clemens, Tim Wakefield,
Saturday’s Red Sox-Royals matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Felipe Paulino at 5:24 am ET
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Will the fifth time be the charm for Tim Wakefield in his pursuit of career victory No. 200? Wakefield (6-5, 4.90) has given up no more than four earned runs in no less than 6 1/3 innings in his four previous attempts. Sunday, the 45-year-old knuckleballer pitched an eight-inning complete game against Seattle, allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits. In his career against the Royals, Wakefield is 6-5 with a 5.07 ERA.

Kansas City will counter with right-hander Felipe Paulino. Paulino (1-9, 4.30) has had control issues as of late, walking 11 batters in his last 17 innings of work. On Monday, he took the mound against the Yankees and lasted just five frames. Paulino allowed five runs (all earned) on eight hits while walking five New York batters.

Infielder Mike Aviles has the most experience of any current Red Sox against Paulino with three plate appearances. Ironically, Aviles was traded to Boston from Kansas City earlier this season. Adrian Gonzalez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are the only other Boston batters who enter Saturday’s game with experience against Paulino.

The Royals have a more telling history against Wakefield. In a combined 48 at-bats, current Kansas City batters enter Saturday’s game hitting .375 with a .434 on-base percentage, .500 slugging percentage, one home run, three doubles and nine RBIs. Former Yankee Melky Cabrera has two of those doubles and boasts a .429/.467/.571 line. Billy Butler is responsible for the lone longball and the other two-bagger, while Alex Gordon is hitting a team-high .571 against Wakefield.

Red Sox vs. Paulino

Mike Aviles (3): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 2 RBIs

Adrian Gonzalez (3) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2) are hitless.

Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Darnell McDonald, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Josh Reddick, Marco Scutaro, Jason Varitek and Ryan Lavarnway have not faced the Kansas City starter.

Royals vs. Wakefield

Melky Cabrera (15 plate appearances): .429 BA/.467 OBP/.571 SLG, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Billy Butler (14): .308/.357/.615, 1 home run, 1 double, 3 RBIs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Alex Gordon (8): .571/.625/.571, 1 RBI, 1 walk

Mitch Maier (8): .333/.500/.333, 1 RBI, 2 walks

Chris Getz (6): .333/.333/.333, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Jeff Francoeur is hitless in two career plate appearances.

Alcides Escobar, Johnny Giavotella, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Brayan Pena and Salvador Perez have not faced the Boston starter.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Felipe Paulino, kansas city royals, Tim Wakefield
Sunday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Charlie Furbush 08.14.11 at 2:20 am ET
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The Red Sox and Mariners will wrap up the season series Sunday night at Safeco Field in a pitching matchup of a Boston veteran and a Seattle rookie. Tim Wakefield will take the mound for the Red Sox, boasting 18 more years of major league experience than his 25-year-old counterpart, Charlie Furbush.

After an 8-6 win over the Twins on August 8, the Red Sox are now 11-4 in games that Wakefield (6-4, 4.92 ERA) starts. The veteran logged his third-straight quality start against Minnesota in his last game, lasting seven innings while allowing three earned runs. Aside from a rough seven-run outing on July 24, Wakefield hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a start since July 1 against Houston.

However, that one rough outing came against the Mariners, who amassed 10 hits, including two home runs, against Wakefield at Fenway Park. Still, the Red Sox and Wakefield managed to record a win, as Boston’s offense exploded for 10 runs in the first five innings on its way to a 12-8 victory. Sunday’s outing will be the knuckleballer’s third of the season against the Mariners. In his first start of the year back on May 1, Wakefield allowed one earned run while striking out three hitters and walking one over 5 2/3 innings. The Boston starter hasn’t lost to Seattle since August of 2010.

Wakefield has handled the Mariners well, holding contact hitters like Ichiro Suzuki and Adam Kennedy well below .300 batting averages. Ichiro has managed just 10 hits in 41 plate appearances, while Kennedy is hitting .219 with a double and a home run in 33 plate appearances. Miguel Olivo has posted respectable power numbers against Wakefield, hitting .278 with two home runs and five RBI in 20 career matchups. As a team, the Mariners are hitting .240 in 138 combined plate appearances vs. the right-hander.

Furbush (2-4, 4.46 ERA) spent the first half of the season in the Tigers’ bullpen before being traded to the Mariners on July 30 with Casper Wells for Doug Fister and David Pauley. Furbush has started two games in Seattle with mixed results. On August 3, he pitched five innings of one-run, two-hit ball but was pulled after just 62 pitches. In his last start, the Rangers touched him up for seven runs on eight hits while drawing four walks in four innings.

The southpaw has performed reasonably well in 55 matchups against left-handed hitting, allowing just one home run while striking out 15 and holding opponents to a .273 average. In two appearances at Safeco Field, Furbush is 1-0 with three strikeouts and a 3.00 ERA. The 25-year-old started just two games with Detroit but pitched five shutout innings against the Red Sox on May 27 as a Tiger at Fenway Park. Furbush allowed just two hits while striking out six batters and walking two. The Red Sox had a four-run lead when he came in, and Boston eventually held on for a 6-3 win.

Josh Reddick and Adrian Gonzalez were the only two Red Sox hitters to solve Furbush in that game, as both hitters went 1-for-2 against the left-hander. However, both Reddick and Gonzalez struck out in their other plate appearances. Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia all went o-for-2 against Furbush.

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Read More: Charlie Furbush, Mariners, Red Sox, Tim Wakefield
John Kruk on M&M: ‘They have to do something’ about slow pace of Sox-Yankees games 08.09.11 at 2:54 pm ET
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ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk joined Mut & Merloni Tuesday afternoon for his weekly interview to discuss the ins-and-outs of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, including how slowly the games were played this past weekend. To hear the full interview, check out the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Boston’s 2-1 Sunday night victory over New York lasted four hours and fifteen minutes, which will reportedly prompt a letter from the MLB. Despite the excitement of Josh Reddick‘s 10th inning walk-off RBI, Kruk admitted that the pace of the first 9 1/2 innings made the game tough to watch.

“They have to do something,” Kruk said. “You’re going to a ball game, and the beauty of baseball is there’s no time, but according to the rule book there is time. I understand TV, two minutes between innings, that can cause some issues. But to me, the rule is 12 seconds from once the pitcher gets the ball to when he should throw it, 12 seconds according to the rule book.

“We were timing them. [Angels pitcher Jered] Weaver was averaging 25 to 26 to 28 seconds, [Josh] Beckett sometimes was over 30 seconds, [Yankees pitcher Freddy] Garcia‘s never going to be in a hurry to do anything. And then we watched Derek Lowe pitching for the Braves last night. He was seven to eight seconds, nine seconds. [Tim] Wakefield was eight to nine seconds last night against Minnesota, and the games seemed to be quicker-paced games. I understand with runners in scoring position, shaking off and stuff because you want to make sure you got the right pitch, but I mean, there’s no one on base and it’s taking 30, 40 seconds to throw a pitch, there’s some problems.

“We’ve been getting killed about the lethargic play and Beckett taking his time. [Garica]’s in no rush either. I always knew that when I was excited for a game and amped up for a game, when a guy was slow and delivered taking his time, sometimes you expand the strike zone just to speed things up, just because you’re impatient. You can put a clock on [Garcia], it’s going to be really, really slow whenever he pitches and with Beckett going against him, jeez, was that long.”

When the game did come to an end, the Red Sox emerged with a 2-1 series victory and sole posession of first place in the American League East. Kruk still has Boston as his pick to win the AL pennant, but he was hesitant to crown them World Series favorites.

“I’m going to say they’re the best team in the American League,” said Kruk. “I think the Phillies, with the addition of Hunter Pence, might have taken a step ahead. Not a big step, but a step ahead and it really balances out their lineup, add the right-handed bat in there to hit behind Ryan Howard. I mean, the Red Sox are just, oh my god, they just kill people. It’s fun to watch.”

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Read More: Derek Lowe, freddy garcia, jered weaver, John Kruk
Closing Time: David Ortiz has big night in 8-6 win over Twins, Tim Wakefield still searching for No. 200 08.08.11 at 10:12 pm ET
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On a night that was supposed to belong to Tim Wakefield during his pursuit of his 200th win, it was another Red Sox veteran who stole the show.

David Ortiz went 4-for-5 with a home run, three RBI and three runs scored while falling just a triple shy of the cycle, but none of those four hits were arguably bigger than his base hit in the ninth that plated pinch-runner Darnell McDonald to give the Red Sox a 7-6 lead over the Twins. Jarrod Saltalamacchia added an RBI on a double in the following at-bat, and Jonathan Papelbon saved his 25th game of the season in Boston’s 8-6 win over Minnesota at Target Field.

The Red Sox totaled 17 hits in the win, with every starter except for Josh Reddick reaching base at least once, while scoring seven of the eight runs in the sixth inning or later, including four in the sixth inning alone.

Wakefield came his closest yet to winning his 200th game when he exited the game prior the eighth inning with Boston up 6-5. But reliever Alfredo Aceves, working in the setup role with Daniel Bard unavailable out of the bullpen, allowed a game-tying single to Jason Kubel (3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored) to instead give Wakefield a no-decision for the second straight start while also spoiling a five-run rally that had put the Sox elder statesman in line for the win in the first place.

Here’s what went right and what went wrong in the Red Sox win over the Twins Monday night:


–Twins starter Scott Baker (6 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 5 K) had allowed just one home run in his last eight outings entering Monday night’€™s affair. But that drought quickly turned into a downpour in the sixth inning when Ortiz and Saltalamacchia hit back-to-back bombs. The event marked the sixth time in 2011 that a pair of Sox hitters had gone back-to-back. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: David Ortiz, jarrod saltalamacchia, Tim Wakefield,
Monday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Scott Baker at 1:22 pm ET
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The Red Sox and Twins start up a three-game series Monday night at Target Field in a rematch of the May 6 pitching matchup between Tim Wakefied and Scott Baker. The Twins ace had the upper hand in that Fenway showdown, as the Red Sox managed just two runs over eight innings in a 9-2 loss.

Wakefield (6-4, 4.99 ERA) will look to register his third straight quality start, after holding the Indians and White Sox to three runs each over six-plus innings. The Red Sox have won five of Wakefield’s last six starts, but he’s needed a great deal of run support to pull off the victories. In the right-hander’s last six outings, the Sox have averaged over seven runs per game. The 45-year-old struggled against the Twins earlier this season, allowing eight runs on nine hits while recording just 13 outs.

Wakefield, who is one win away from career win No. 200, hasn’t pitched at Target Field since last season, when he struggled through 5 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on 10 hits in a losing effort. Coupled with his loss against the Twins earlier this year, Wakefield has not beaten Minnesota since May of 2009.

As a team, the Twins are hitting .253 with eight home runs in 171 combined plate appearances against Wakefield. Jim Thome accounts for 70 of those matchups, but he’s only managed 11 hits, including three doubles and four home runs. Joe Mauer has handled the knuckleballer well, hitting .357 in 16 plate appearances to go along with a home run and three RBIs. Denard Span is 4-for-10 with three doubles and four RBIs.

Baker (8-6, 3.01 ERA) leads Minnesota’s struggling pitching staff in wins, ERA and strikeouts (115), although his last start was one of his worst of the season. On Wednesday against the Angels, Baker lasted just three innings while allowing four runs on five hits, including a home run. Still, the Twins managed an 11-4 victory, marking their fifth win in Baker’s last four starts.

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Read More: Red Sox, Scott Baker, Tim Wakefield, Twins
‘One bad pitch’ thwarts Tim Wakefield in his attempt for career win No. 200 08.03.11 at 11:46 pm ET
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Tim Wakefield will have to wait another day.

For the second straight game, the knuckleballer pitched well in attempting to claim his 200th career win, but, once again, couldn’t quite claim the victory.

Unlike last Friday’s outing where the Red Sox fell to the White Sox 3-1, the Red Sox were able to pull out a victory, 4-3, in walk-off fashion. The decisive blow this time came off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury, who claimed his second consecutive walk-off hit in as many nights.

“I made one bad pitch to [Ezequiel] Carrera and that was it,” Wakefield said. “I thought it was a little down and it just didn’t have the movement I wanted.”

The pitch Wakefield lamented came in the seventh inning when the Indians center fielder ripped a ground-rule double into the right field seats, scoring Lonnie Chisenhall to tie the game, 2-2. That would be the end of Wakefield’s night.

The Red Sox offense gave Wakefield two runs in the bottom of the first, but that would be all they would get until the ninth.

Wakefield pitched well, going 6 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on five hits. He finished with six strikeouts.

“He pitched terrific,” manager Terry Francona said. “Again, it’s hard. I know what is riding on the game and for him personally, but you kinda have to do what is right to win the game. Everybody is pulling for him to get the win, including myself. He really did pitch well.”

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Read More: Ezequiel Carrera, Jacoby Ellsbury, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield
Wednesday’s Red Sox-Indians matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Carlos Carrasco at 1:21 pm ET
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The Red Sox and Indians will square off for the third game of a four-game series at Fenway Park Wednesday night, as Boston looks to build its lead in the American League East before a highly anticipated weekend set with the Yankees. We’re several days into August, and no two pitchers are more excited to be rid of July than Wednesday’s starters, Tim Wakefield and Carlos Carrasco.

The Red Sox won four of the five games Wakefield (6-4, 5.06 ERA) started last month, but the veteran right-hander struggled to a 6.23 ERA in July, his worst monthly total of the season. In 30 1/3 innings, he gave up 25 runs, 42 hits, five homers and six walks while striking out 19.

Wakefield took a tough-luck loss in his last outing, tossing seven innings of three-run, three-hit ball against the White Sox on July 29. The 3-1 defeat may have been karmic retribution for his outing on July 24, when Wakefield gave up seven runs and 10 hits but got the win as Boston erupted for 12 runs against the Mariners. The knuckleballer had a better June ERA (5.01), but the Red Sox went just 2-3 in his five starts.

Although Wakefield has been in the league since 1992, he has limited experience against a relatively young Indians lineup. Still, he’s shut down the only two hitters he’s faced more than 10 times. Travis Hafner has just one hit in 18 plate appearances and has struck out six times. Asdrubal Cabrera is 2-for-12 with two RBIs and three strikeouts. Matt LaPorta has had the most success against Wakefield. In five plate appearances, he’s 2-for-4 with a home run.

Carrasco (8-9, 4.67 ERA) will also be happy to put July in his rearview mirror, as he had one of the worst months in the major leagues. In five starts, the right-hander went 0-5 with a 9.13 ERA, capped off by a three-inning, seven-run outing against the Royals last Friday. During that game, Carrasco threw at the head of Billy Butler and was suspended for six games. He appealed the decision, allowing him to make the start Wednesday.

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Read More: Carlos Carrasco, Indians, Red Sox, Tim Wakefield
Tim Wakefield quietly pursues a landmark milestone 07.29.11 at 3:27 pm ET
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CHICAGO — It is unfortunate yet in many ways fitting that Tim Wakefield is being overshadowed even on the cusp of a remarkable milestone.

The July 31 trade deadline looms just two days away, and so talk about the Red Sox is dominated by the health of Clay Buchholz (35 career wins), and whether the Sox can pull a rabbit out of a hat before the trade deadline to land Ubaldo Jimenez (56), Hiroki Kuroda (34), Erik Bedard (55 wins) or some other savior for the rotation.

As for Wakefield? He quietly, unassumingly packs his lunch pail, shows up at the park, and goes about his business of trying to do his best to put the Red Sox in a position to win, while possibly getting a ‘W’ in the process. Is is something he has done in the shadows for 19 big league seasons, 17 of which have come with the Red Sox, and it is longevity and consistency — something short of greatness but nearly as rare — that has brought him to the threshold of a massive milestone.

There are 107 pitchers in major league history with 200 victories; since 1900, just 88 pitchers have accomplished the feat. No active player has that landmark on his resume. There are 11 pitchers who made their careers primarily as starting pitchers who have not reached the plateau.

And so, as Wakefield prepares for the 617th game and 454th start of his career, a start on Friday night against the White Sox, he is staring in the face of not just a notch on the belt but a defining accomplishment. A one-time castoff and perpetually overlooked member of the Red Sox is nearing a milestone that is nothing short of remarkable.

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