Wakefield taking it one win at a time

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Wakefield taking it one win at a time

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Each time he puts another notch in the win column, Tim Wakefield takes a step closer to history.

His victory over the Blue Jays Wednesday night at Fenway Park was the 198th of his career. With two more wins, Wakefield would become the 108th pitcher in baseball history, and the 89th since 1900, to reach 200 wins.

The win also gave him 184 victories in a Sox uniform. He is now eight wins behind Roger Clemens and Cy Young for the teams all-time record.

His 96 wins at Fenway are second all-time behind Clemens 100. With each win, he also extends his lead among active pitchers.

But hes not thinking about those numbers for now.

Ill worry about that when the time comes, Wakefield said. I got to see where I fall after the All-Star break and go from there.

He went seven innings against the Blue Jays, giving up three runs on nine hits, as the Sox beat Toronto, 6-4, in the series finale. The Jays hit Wakefield early, getting six of their nine hits off him in the first three innings. But, staked to a three-run lead after the fourth, Wakefield settled down, allowing just one runner to third Travis Snider in the sixth on a double and a passed ball.

The results were obviously better later in the game, he said. I felt like I had good stuff in the first couple innings. A couple hits and they scored three runs, and after that I was able to settle down and make some adjustments.

Early on I thought that there were some balls that were up, and normally with Wake when theyre up, he gets hit, manager Terry Francona said. "He settled down, gave us what we needed. Hes been doing that. He has a way of doing that. He steps in and pitches professionally.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was charged with three passed balls in the game, a testament to just how much Wakefields knuckleball was moving.

It was dirty tonight, Saltalamacchia said. He was probably the best Ive seen him so far. He was controlling it well and even threw a couple of curveballs, as well, that struck some guys out.

I didn't know he can kind of throw that knuckleball wherever he wants it. I didn't know that. Hopefully Im going to start talking to him and see if he can hit my glove and make sure I dont have to do anything. Like against Yunel Escobar . . . Escobar was seeing the ball, handling the ball well, so his third at-bat we decided to try and throw as far out of the way as we could . . . Escobar didnt take them and then Wakefield threw a fastball and popped him out. So its impressive that he can throw those pitches and put them where he wants them.

With the bullpen pitching a combined 11 23 innings over the last two games, Wakefield wanted to be sure he got deep into this game.

Its very satisfying, he said. I knew I had to go deep in the game today even though we kind of had some backup with right-hander Scott Atchison getting called up today when Jon Lester went on the disabled list. But the bullpens been taxed pretty heavily the last couple days. Its something that as a starting pitcher you take a lot of pride in, to get deep in the game and preserve those guys for the next series.

It was Wakefields fifth quality start in 11 starts this season. Overall, he has appeared in 20 games, starting the season in the bullpen and then being pressed into starting duty as other starters went down with injuries.

I take a lot of pride in that, he said. It was my job coming into this year. Im getting an opportunity to try to help us win, whatever capacity that might be in. Very proud of the job Ive done so far.

The job hes done is not lost on those around him.

We told him this spring that thats what his role would be," Francona said. Unlike last year, he had a chance to prepare for that, even mentally. We knew there was going to be starts. Dont know how many. Still probably dont, but its certainly nice to have a guy that can step in like that. Every time he gets a win were thrilled for him, and us.

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 (AP) 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.