Notes: Wakefield disappointed in start

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Notes: Wakefield disappointed in start

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BALTIMORE -- Tim Wakefield understood the situation.

The Red Sox were short on sleep and relievers Monday night, with Daniel Bard, Matt Albers and Alfredo Aceves all unavailable due to heavy workload over the weekend.

Wakefield would have liked to take the Red Sox deep into the game Monday. But he was done after 4 23 innings, unable to keep his knuckleball down in the strike zone when he needed to most.

After Josh Reddick misplayed a ball hit by Derrek Lee into a two-run triple, the Sox stormed back and gave Wakefield a 6-2 lead in the fifth.

But Wakefield gave it back in the bottom of the inning, thanks to two homers and a two-run double.

"Obviously, (the bullpen depth) was on my mind and I'm disappointed I couldn't get us into the sixth or seventh inning," said Wakefield. "It's something that I pride myself in and it's something I want to try to accomplish and give those guys a rest and I wasn't able to do it tonight."

Wakefield's knuckleball showed great depth in the early innings but later, he left balls up to J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones and paid for it with homers.

"The pitch to Hardy, I was trying to throw a first-pitch strike and left it up," said Wakefield. "The one to Jones, I overthrew it and it didn't do anything."

Monday morning, he snapped a 0-0 tie with a game-winning single. Monday night, he snapped a 7-7 tie and hit a two-run double to give the Red Sox a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

It doesn't matter the score or the inning. Dustin Pedroia likes being up in big spots.

It wasn't easy, either, as he faced reliever Mark Worrell, who throws sidearm and hadn't pitched in the big leagues in three seasons.

"I was just trying to see it," said Pedroia. "He kind of hides the ball and then it gets on you. In that situation, I was just trying so hard to get a ball in the air because it's sinking so much. I was lucky enough to do that."

Pedroia has a 16-game hitting streak, the longest ongoing streak in the league.

"I'm just trying to have good at-bats, get on base," said Pedroia. "That's my job."

Both big hits the last two games were hit to the opposite field, but Pedroia said that wasn't by design.

"My approach is to try hit it where it's pitched," he said.

"Both (pitches) were away and I'm just trying to put it on the barrel."

Carl Crawford (left hamstring) rejoined the team Monday and was back in the lineup in his familiar sixth spot in the batting order.

He immediately made some contributions, collecting two hits in five at-bats and two runs scored.

"You just never know how things are going to turn out (at the plate)," said Crawford, who has faced live pitching only twice in the last four and a half weeks. "I thought I was going to be a little late (with his swing), but I was able to get good timing and get good pitches to handle and find a few holes."

To make room for Crawford's activation, the Sox optioned Drew Sutton back to Pawtucket.

Crawford missed almost exactly a month with a hamstring strain, but had two rehab appearances over the weekend with Pawtucket.

"I just want to see if I could move around,'' said Crawford before the game. "I felt real good out there, so I feel comfortable returning to the lineup. I'm real excited to be back on the field. It's been a while since I've been back out there, so just to be back in the action and on the field, I'm definitely excited about it.''

Crawford said before the game that the one thing he still needs to work on is his swing and timing at the plate.

"When it comes to the offense, that's the only thing I need to (work on), my timing at the plate,'' he said.

Crawford said he was "pretty much'' looking at his return as a chance to have a second start with the Red Sox.

"I want to just put the first half behind me,'' he said, "and go forward. The team's still doing well so I'll just try to blend right in. I was starting to feel a lot better (before the injury). It's just one of those things.''

The Sox made a correction, noting that Jon Lester will return to the mound Monday July 25, and not Tuesday the 26th, as wasindicated Sunday.

Clay Buchholz threw from a distance of 120 feet Monday afternoon, with a side session scheduled in a few days.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

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At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.