Haggerty: 'Wake Watch' now in full effect

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Haggerty: 'Wake Watch' now in full effect

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
SEATTLE The mythic sentiment and romantic chase in securing another career milestone probably wore off for level-headed Tim Wakefield about two weeks ago.

The 45-year-old knuckleballer freely admitted earlier this month that notching 200 career wins was an important milestone in his noteworthy baseball body of work, and its an important piece when considering exactly why the pitcher is still active as the oldest player in all of Major League Baseball.

That little fact of Wakefield's life really hasnt changed at all.

But now that the creaky right-hander has come up empty in four straight starts for the Sox looking to bathe in a little baseball immortality, the quest for win No. 200 seems much more like a trip to the dentists office that Wakefield just wants to get out of the way as quickly as possible.

On a day when the Sox dropped to a game ahead of the the idle Yankees amid a dreary rain-out in the Bronx, Wakefields focus was trained much more on dropping a game than hoisting another milestone trophy on his mantle. Wake ended up notching his 33rd career complete game in defeat a good, healthy number for the current era of baseball but a far cry from the mind-blowing 275 career complete games spun by Cy Young during his Red Sox career.

The only hard hit ball against the knuckler in eight innings was the solo homer cracked by Casper Wells in the sixth inning, but all that mattered was the final result thats been the same in three out of his last four starts. There have been some nice consolation prizes, but the big enchilada has escaped Wakefield.

Im just trying to go out there and give quality starts and quality innings, said Wakefield. The results arent what I wanted it to be, but I was able to go out there and give eight innings. Id like to get it out of the way, but winning 200 isnt weighing on my mind to the point where Im pressing.

Wakefield was reminded by the traveling Sox media about the troubles that Hall of Fame left field legend Carl Yastrzemski had in securing hit No. 3000 at the ripe age of 40 as he went hitless in 13 straight at bats before finally nabbing it with a ground ball dribbler against the Yankees.

It was somewhat mockingly referred to as Yaz Watch by the Knights of the Keyboard more than 30 years ago, and Wakefield was looking to avoid his personal quest going down in the same fashion.

Is there a Wake watch now? asked a bemused Wakefield.

Wakefields latest speed bump on the way to 200 wins arrived in Seattle on Sunday afternoon as he pitched a complete game, but allowed nine hits and five runs in a 5-3 loss at Safeco Field.

The Sox never held the lead in the game, and an iffy safe call at second base in the bottom half of the third inning on a Jed Lowrie force play assisted in things getting out of hand for both Wakefield and the Sox.

It all started with a full count, leadoff walk to Casper Wells as so many troublesome rallies do, and then it all went south from there. A pair of singles by Jack Wilson and Kyle Seager plated a single run, and then Ed Hickox totally butchered a force out at second base on an Ichiro grounder that really flung the run-scoring doors open for the Mariners.

I dont even know how it all unfolded," said Wakefield, who seemed stunned that the official scorer slapped Lowrie with an error on a double play ball. "A leadoff walk that I thought was strike three, and after that I was just trying to survive. They ended up scoring three runs.

Wakefields catcher, on the other hand, was still running pretty hot about the pair of calls that went against the Sox in the first few innings and contributed to a 3-0 deficit. A seemingly harmless Dustin Pedroia grounder in the first inning that pulled first baseman Mike Carp off the bag was called out without a peep from the Sox dugout, but the Sox backstop noticed it all.

I thought Wakefield threw the ball well," Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "He had one inning . . . well, its hard to explain. He had one inning where nothing seemed to go right for us. Its one of those things where it was obvious that Jed Lowrie turned two and had the guy at second. Pedroia was safe at first in the first inning in my opinion, so there were a couple of things that kind of aggravated me a little bit.

Wakefield was happy with the way his knuckleball danced in the crisp Pacific Northwest air, but he also knows that its less about individual achievements and more about results at this late date in the season. Hes now 0-2 with a 4.08 ERA with 19 strikeouts in the four starts where hes come up short of win No. 200, and the double century mark admittedly danced in his head the first couple of starts after 199.

In the first couple of starts yeah I was thinking about it," Wakefield said. "But now Im just trying to pitch quality starts and quality innings to help get us wins. Its getting to be the time of the year when its time to win games.

The Wakefield quest for 200 wins continues next week in Kansas City with a tilt against the Royals, so stay tuned for the next chapter: it will bring either adulation or frustration to the elder statesmen of Major League Baseball.

It might also bring a conclusion to Wake Watch 2011.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.