By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
BOSTON - Tim Wakefield felt right at home on Sunday afternoon, and it wasnt just because he was pitching at Fenway Park.
Wakefield made his eighth start of the season and, after alternating from the starting rotation and bullpen last year, he is finding success with consistency.
Ive got a more consistent job right now," he said following the Red Sox' 12-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. I think last year was a lot of inconsistencies on what I was doing - bullpen, start, bullpen, start, back to bullpen. Its nice to have a routine and get some repetition on working on stuff on the side versus hoping its there when the game starts out of the bullpen. Its been a pleasure so far.
Wakefield went eight innings (his longest outing since July 2, 2010) and recorded six strikeouts while giving up three hits and three earned runs (two home runs). Of his 99 pitches, 75 were strikes.
He threw a lot of strikes. I mean, a lot of strikes," said Terry Francona. He gave up one walk, he just filled up the strike zone and the ball was moving. Today was a good day to hit, if you elevate that knuckleball, any pitch its going to go. He just threw a ton of strikes with a good knuckleball.
After the game the Brewers admitted they were stifled by Wakefields delivery.
The hard part is when he throws you a good one, nobody is going to hit it," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. Thats the hard part. Theres times where weve come in where he hasnt had a good knuckleball and its completely different. But when hes like he is today, youre fortunate to get runs off him.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia wasnt surprised. He believes Wakefield is better suited to be a starter and had a feeling before the game he would be effective.
He was excellent, he said. That's probably the best stuff I've seen from him all year that I've caught him. Even in the bullpen I was having trouble just because the ball was moving everywhere. He was really just kind of throwing it for strikes, too, getting ahead. But obviously it's a tough pitch to hit as it is anyways.
Wakefield credited his teammates for giving him the run support to help him settle in on the mound. His manager gave him credit for giving the team a solid start when called upon.
I think his role is exactly what hes doing," said Francona. We talked about it going in that theres probably going to be starts for him. We dont know where theyre going to be. Because of his versatility, hes filled that role. Hes filled it unbelievably. Youre fortunate on a staff where you have a guy like that and going into the season he knew what is his role was and, in all honesty, you dont know when the starts are going to be. But he prepared real well and hes really helping us out.
Wakefield may not always know when his next start will come, but his teammates know they can feel confident with him on the mound.
Said David Ortiz, Hes got a gift and the longer he can make that ball move like that, hes going to be successful.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCamerato