Red Sox notes: One inning dooms Wakefield

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Red Sox notes: One inning dooms Wakefield

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
PITTSBURGH One inning proved to be Tim Wakefields undoing Saturday night, as the Red Sox fell to the Pirates, 6-4, for the second straight game.

With a two-run lead in the fourth, Wakefield faced eight Pirates hitters, with four scoring. Lyle Overbay's three-run homer scoring Andrew McCutchen, who singled, and Neil Walker, who walked -- in the inning was the big blow, followed by an RBI single by Jeff Karstens, scoring Ronny Cedeno, who doubled. It was Karstens first RBI of the season.

Before the fourth, Wakefield had managed to keep the Pirates at bay, retiring them in order in the first and second, and working out of a jam in the third, when he threw two wild pitches, had two runners on base, but managed to hold Pittsburgh off the scoreboard.

Then came the fourth inning.

It was one of those innings where I just fell out of rhythm and gave up a three run homer and that pretty much cost us the game, Wakefield said.

I was just trying to be too quick to the plate. The guys that got on were really fast runners, and I was trying to give catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, in case of a steal, a chance to throw guys out. Lost a little feel and lost a little rhythm.

I think Wake battled his butt off tonight, Saltalamacchia said. He fell behind. Didnt have the consistent strikes that he had the last time. They were putting the ball in play. They got some infield hits. The Overbay home run hurt us but theres nothing you can do about it, 3-2 count, we threw the knuckle. Overbay did a good job.

As he usually does against the Red Sox. For Overbay, who is hitting .307 against the Sox, the home run was his 13th against the Red Sox, more than he has against any other team. He entered the game batting .333 (9-for-27) with one home run and five RBI in his career against Wakefield, while hitting just .231 this season.

Its definitely a tough matchup, Wakefield said. Especially when I feel behind him 2-0. Trying to get back in, throwing fastballs in that situation and I got to 3-2 and I threw a knuckleball that just didnt have anything on it at the end and he hit it out.

In the eighth inning, the Sox had the tying runs on base with two outs and Marco Scutaro at the plate to face lefty Tony Watson. Manager Terry Francona was asked if he considered using David Ortiz to pinch-hit in that situation.

No. I was hoping theyd bring in a righty. Then we would have, he said. We want to hit David next. If they brought in a righty we would have had David hit for Scoot and have Drew Sutton hit next and put him in at short.

Dustin Pedroias fourth error of the season, on Andrew McCutchens fifth-inning grounder allowed the Pirates to score their fifth run, as Chase dArnaud scored from second.

I put my head up to see if the runner was going, to see if the guy that was on second was going to go to third, Pedroia said. And I took my eye off the ball. Thats basically it. I missed it.

The crowd of 49,483 was the largest ever at PNC Park.

Right-hander Bobby Jenks threw one inning in a rehab appearance for Double-A Portland. He went one scoreless inning, giving up one hit, no walks, with one strikeout, throwing 13 pitches, eight for strikes.

Pittsburghs relievers have held the Sox scoreless over a combined 5 13 innings in the first two games of the series.

They got a good staff, Saltalamacchia said. I think Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is doing a great job just mixing them up, putting lefties on lefties, righties on righties, something that the American League's not too used to. But we got to do a better job putting some runs on the board, and just playing solid defense.

Were not familiar with their guys, Pedroia said. Weve seen them once in spring training but thats basically it.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

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.