Wakefield grateful to win 200th at Fenway Park

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Wakefield grateful to win 200th at Fenway Park

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen

BOSTON After the game, his 200th career win safely in the record books, Tim Wakefield acknowledged there were times when he thought this one might not actually happen.

It did cross my mind after six or seven starts, said Wakefield, who made seven unsuccessful attempts at No. 200 since his last win on July 24. But I kept telling myself the milestone doesnt determine me as a person. Ive always said Ive been grateful to wear this uniform as long as I have, and been very fortunate to live out a dream I had as a kid. Im just grateful it happened tonight and very grateful it happened in front of our home crowd. The standing ovation I got when I walked off the mound in the fifth and sixth, and to be able to go back out after the game was over and share it with the people that were here, was very special.

Wakefields first win came July 31, 1992, against the Cardinals, while with the Pirates. Just 14 of his wins were with Pittsburgh, his home for the first two seasons of his 19-year career. He joined the Sox in 1995 after going 5-15 for Buffalo, the Pirates Triple-A squad, in 1994.

I was just happy to have a job after that year in 94, he said. I went to spring training and I was 5-15 in Triple A. I went into spring training with the Pirates that year and getting released after one start. I was very grateful that former Sox general manager Dan Duquette called me and wanted to sign me.

It was difficult for him to describe his emotions after the win, an 18-6 shellacking of the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

Theyre just setting in right now, he said. Im grateful that, one, its over with; two, that it was able to happen here in Fenway Park in front if our home crowd and going outside and seeing the signs and all the people and my teammates came out in support. It says a lot about everything thats gone on in my career and tonight. Im kind of speechless when it comes to that.

Im very grateful that I was able to wear this uniform as long as I have and reach the milestone that I thought Id never reach. Just very grateful.

His team was grateful, too. The win came at a desperately needed time for the Sox, who had lost five in a row, six of seven on the recent road trip, and seven of eight.

It was great, said Dustin Pedroia, who went 4-for-5 with two home runs. Weve been trying to help Wakefield win his 200th for a while, but we gave him run support and he went out there, last few innings he settled in and did a great job. Were all so proud of him. Its pretty unbelievable what hes been able to accomplish.

Wakefield gave up five runs on two home runs over the first three innings before settling down to retire 11 of the final 13 batters he faced. He went six innings, giving up five runs on six hits and two walks with six strikeouts, two home runs and a hit batter.

The significance of the night was obviously very special, said manager Terry Francona. He gave up some runs early, our bats came alive. I thought going out for the sixth inning at the time was important. He had a nice quick sixth.

Its kind of neat to see the way the guys responded to Wake in the clubhouse and the way the fans responded to Wake on the field. I thought that was pretty appropriate and probably only in a place like Boston would you see something like that happen.

Im just so happy for him, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Its an honor for me to be able to be back there and catch him, get that 200th win, and be a part of history. But also to see what hes done in his career, pitch as long as hes pitched, and be able to finally get this. it makes you feel good. It gives you goosebumps. After we scored a few runs I had goosebumps the rest of the game.

Wakefield now has other milestones on his radar, including 192 wins with the Red Sox, which would tie him for the franchise record with Cy Young and Roger Clemens. He now has 186 wins with the Sox.

Thats the next goal, Wakefield said. The most important thing right now is doing my work and getting ready for my next start and try to push us into the postseason. That was everybodys goal in the spring to make it to the postseason and win another World Series. Im grateful to take a lot of pressure off my teammates and I know theyve been feeling it. But nows the time to concentrate on winning as many games as we can and getting to October.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

BOSTON -- New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, left-handed hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike three — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.

Red Sox tie strikeout record in completing sweep of Rangers, 6-2

Red Sox tie strikeout record in completing sweep of Rangers, 6-2

BOSTON - There's something about Boston Red Sox pitchers and 20-strikeout games.

There have been six major-league games with that many strikeouts and the Red Sox made the list for the third time, fanning that many Texas Rangers for a 6-2 victory Thursday night and a sweep of the three-game series.

Five Boston pitchers combined on the 20 strikeouts with starter Drew Pomeranz getting 11 in six innings and closer Craig Kimbrel getting four in the ninth when the leadoff batter reached on a wild pitch strike three. Boston's Roger Clemens twice reached 20 strikeouts by himself.

"His stuff is nasty. What he is doing right now I have never seen anything like that," Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes said of Kimbrel.

Kimbrel has retired 53 of the last 56 batters he has faced and right-handed hitters are on an 0-for-41 streak.

Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero hit their first home runs of the season helping Boston to its fourth straight win.

"A lot has been made about our home run totals or lack thereof," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Tonight was the first of what should be many more."

Pomeranz (4-3), who tied his career high with the 11 strikeouts, made it as far as six innings for the third time this season and beat Texas for the first time in nine career outings.

"Felt lost for a couple of starts and wasn't satisfied," said Pomeranz, who gave up four hits and walked one. "Tonight I felt more like last year."

Elvis Andrus homered and Nomar Mazara had two hits and an RBI for Texas, which has lost four of five overall and 15 of 21 on the road.

"The sweep is surprising," Andrus said. "But that's the beauty of baseball, I guess. You cannot take any team for granted. Even when you feel you're playing at your best, stuff like this can happen."

Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland had RBI singles in the first inning as Boston got to Rangers starter Nick Martinez (1-3) early.

Bogaerts hit a two-run homer in the third to put Boston ahead 4-0. Despite finishing with 21 home runs last year, Bogaerts needed 46 games to connect for the first time this season.

"Good to get one over the wall and get it out of the way," Bogaerts said.

Mike Napoli struck out four times while Pete Kozma and Andrus went down three times each. Every Ranger starter struck out at least once.

"Pomeranz was throwing well," Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "Obviously their bullpen came in and threw well also and they played better than we did overall tonight."

Marrero homered in the eighth off Alex Claudio.

Martinez gave up four runs in five innings and is winless in four starts against Boston with a 6.46 ERA.

Andrus cut Boston's lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning with the homer, snapping an 0-for-9 drought.

Moreland tied his career high by driving in at least one run for the sixth straight game and extended his hitting streak to seven games, batting .393 in that stretch.

Boston swept Texas for the first time at Fenway Park since 2008. Since 2009, Texas has the best winning percentage at Fenway Park in the major leagues at .600.

STRIKING SUCCESS

Pomeranz recorded his 500th career strikeout when he whiffed Napoli for the final out of the fourth inning, his eighth of the game.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre will play in extended spring training games in Arizona the next three days after being sidelined all season with a calf strain.

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia was removed from the game after five innings for precautionary reasons due to left knee pain. He is listed as day to day. ... LHP David Price will make his season debut Monday in Chicago against the White Sox despite surrendering six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings over his last two rehab starts. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval is 3 for 13 in four rehab games.

UP NEXT:

Rangers: Will send RHP A.J. Griffin (4-1) in the opener at Toronto.

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (3-1) looks to win his fourth straight decision when they entertain Seattle on Friday.