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.

Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

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Three things we learned from the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Twins

Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins . . .

1) David Price isn’t having fun

Boston’s $217 million-dollar arm had another rough outing -- this time against a team that already has 60 losses.

Those are the team’s he’s supposed to dominate.

“It’s been terrible,” Price said on how his season has gone following the loss. “Just awful.”

Price’s mistakes have often been credited to mechanical mishaps this year. Farrell mentioned that following his start in New York, Price spent time working on getting more of a downhill trajectory on his pitches.

But Price doesn’t think his issue is physical.

So it must be mental -- but he doesn’t feel that’s the case either.

“Honestly I don’t think it’s either one of those,” Price said when asked which he thought was a factor. “It’s me going out there and making pitches. “

But when it comes down to the barebones, pitching -- much like anything else -- is a physical and mental act.

So when he says it’s neither, that’s almost impossible. It could be both, but it has to be one.

His mind could be racing out on the mound from a manifestation of the issues he’s had throughout the season.

Or it could just be that his fastball isn’t changing planes consistently, like Farrell mentioned.

Both could be possible too, but it takes a certain type of physical approach and mental approach to pitch -- and Price needs to figure out which one is the issue, or how to address both. 

2) Sandy Leon might be coming back to Earth

Over his last five games, Boston’s new leading catcher is hitting .176 (3-for-17), dropping his average to .395.

A couple things have to be understood. His average is still impressive. In the five games prior to this dry spell, Leon went 7-for-19 (.368) But -- much like Jackie Bradley Jr. -- Leon hasn’t been known for his offensive output throughout his career. So dry spells are always tests of how he can respond to adversity and make necessary adjustments quickly.

Furthermore, if he’s not so much falling into a funk as opposed to becoming the real Sandy Leon -- what is Boston getting?

Is his run going to be remembered as an exciting run that lasted much longer than anyone expected? Or if he going to show he’s a legitimate hitter that can hit at least -.260 to .280 with a little pop from the bottom of the line-up?

What’s more, if he turns back into the Sandy Leon he’s been throughout his career, the Red Sox will have an interesting dilemma on how to handle the catching situation once again.

3) Heath Hembree has lost the momentum he gained after being called up.

Following Saturday’s contest, the right-hander was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after an outing where he went 1/3 of an inning, giving up a run on three hits -- and allowing some inherited runners to score.

Hembree at one point was the savior of the bullpen, stretching his arm out over three innings at a time to bail out the scuffling Red Sox starting rotation that abused it’s bullpen.

His ERA is still only 2.41 -- and this has been the most he’s ever pitched that big league level -- but the Red Sox have seen a change in him since the All-Star break.

Which makes sense, given that hitters have seven hits and two walks against him in his 1.1 innings of work -- spanning four games since the break.

“He’s not confident pitcher right now,” John Farrell said about Hembree before announcing his demotion. “As good as Heath has been for the vast majority of this year -- and really in the whole first half -- the four times out since the break have been the other side of that.”

Joe Kelly will be the pitcher to replace Hembree and Farrell hopes to be able to stretch him out over multiple innings at a time, as well.

Quotes, notes and stars: Price says season has been "terrible"

Quotes, notes and stars: Price says season has been "terrible"

Quotes, notes and stars from the Boston Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins:

QUOTES

* “It’s been terrible . . . Just awful.” Price on how his season has gone.

* “Tough night from the mound -- obviously.” John Farrell on Red Sox pitching in the loss.

* “Honestly I don’t think it’s either one of those. It’s me going out there and making pitches. It’s what I’ve done for a long time now -- and I haven’t done this year. That’s why this year’s been the way it has been.” Price said when he was asked if he felt his problems boiled down to physical or mental issues.

* “Given that [we] had to stay away from [Matt] Barnes and [Junichi] Tazawa today, [Clay Buchholz] was a guy that was going to be needed to hopefully multiple inning to bridge us to where were able to match up a little bit more in the eighth inning to get to Ziegler. Unfortunately it didn’t happen.” Farrell said on why he turned to Buchholz -- not Barnes – despite having the lead.

* “It was crazy. When the fly ball [went] into the sky it turned into like a twister of some sort and you didn’t know where the ball was going to fall. I’ve never seen anything like that before.” Michael Martinez on dealing with the howling wind in right field.

* “It wasn’t much wind. I went and looked at it, definitely should have made the play. Just running at it full speed -- it was one of those things I didn’t know how close I was getting to the wall so I went into a slide. And it was an early slide, so it kind of threw me off a little bit . . . Just thought I was closer to the wall than I really was.” Brock Holt on the fly ball he misplayed.

NOTES

* Jackie Bradley Jr. knocked in two runs, becoming the fourth Red Sox hitter to reach the 60 RBI mark this season -- the most in the MLB. Bradley also had a double, marking is 46th extra-base hit of the season -- with 99 hits overall.

* Dustin Pedroia reached base for the 26th consecutive game with his double in the second inning. He has a .402 OBP during this stretch and a .311 average.

* The Red Sox have lost consecutive games for the first time in nearly a month (6/26-27). Both losses were comeback victories for Minnesota. Boston’s record drops to 3-3 against the 37-60 Twins this season.

STARS

1) Eddie Rosario

Rosario finished 4-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored, bumping his average from .244 to .262.

2) David Ortiz

Ortiz finished 3-for-3 with a walk, double, two RBI and two runs scored -- giving Boston just about as much offense as anyone can hope for.

3) Miguel Sano

The burly Twins third baseman finished 3-for-5 with a long ball, two runs scored, a walk and an RBI in Minnesota’s win.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar