By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Two morning-after musings:
If, as it certainly seems, Andrew Miller is about to soon join the Red Sox starting rotation, Tim Wakefield is going to be displaced, one way or another.
While one report had the Red Sox planning to slot Miller into the current mix, and, at least for a while, go with six starters, Wakefield will eventually be the odd man out.
There's no rationale for removing Josh Beckett, who sports the lowest ERA of any American League starter, or Jon Lester, who leads in A.L. in wins.
Clay Buchholz (3.59 ERA) has earned a permanent spot in the rotation, and John Lackey gets to stay based on his paycheck. The Sox aren't about to have a long man making almost 17 million per season -- there's too much invested.
That leaves Wakefield, who has a habit of finding himself squeezed out of the picture.
Wakefield pitched brilliantly Tuesday night in defeat, allowing just one earned run over seven innings. He's sure to be unhappy with the idea of being passed over, or, at the very least, moved around.
Though he's not primarily motivated by personal gain, each start Wakefield doesn't get makes his twin goals of 200 career wins (he sits at 196) and becoming the all-time winningest Red Sox pitcher (he's currently 11 away from topping Cy Young and Roger Clemens) become more remote.
Wakefield's current deal expires at the end of the season and while he's been a valuable depth piece on the Red Sox' staff for the last few years, there's no guarantee of his return for 2012 and beyond.
It will take a strong sell job by Terry Francona to have Wakefield remain invested in the team should he again be shifted to the role of bullpen long man.
Tuesday night was one more example of how difficult an opponent the Rays are for the Red Sox.
Boston's run of mighty offensive outbursts was shut down by the Rays and James Shields, and, with it, the team's nine-game winning streak was snapped.
Perhaps that shouldn't be terribly surprising, given the recent history between the two clubs, especially here.
Overall, the Rays have won 10 of their last 13 since June 30 of last season. And since the beginning of 2008, the Rays are a torrid 20-8 -- which translates into a winning percentage of .714 -- against the Sox at Tropicana Field.
It's tough to put a finger on Tampa Bay's dominance. In the past, it could be argued that the Rays' athleticism was a bad matchup for the Red Sox, who couldn't slow the Rays' running game.
Except this: Carl Crawford, once their foremost athletic player and all-around catalyst, now plays for the Red Sox.
And the Rays are no longer nearly as athletic as they were with Crawford, but are still, somehow, 3-0 against the Sox this year.
It can't be Tampa Bay's home-field advantage, either, since the crowds at the Trop are modest, and often, about 30-40 percent full of Red Sox boosters.
Crawford himself provided an interesting tidbit following Tuesday's 4-0 loss to his former team.
"I know those guys over there,'' said Crawford. "Whenever it's the Red Sox in town, they take it up a notch.''
Perhaps the Rays are particularly motivated by the turnout of Red Sox fans in their home ballpark, making them all the more determined to beat their guests. And it's a fair bet to believe that Joe Maddon reminds his team of the huge payroll advantages both the Red Sox and Yankees hold.
Whatever is being said, it's working. And it's going to make it very difficult for the Red Sox to run away with the division if they can't beat the Rays head-to-head.