Wakefield taking it one win at a time


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.

Red Sox exec Amiel Sawdaye follows Hazen to Arizona


Red Sox exec Amiel Sawdaye follows Hazen to Arizona

The Red Sox lost another key member of their front office Monday, when vice-president of amateur and international scouting Amiel Sawdaye followed former general manager Mike Hazen to Arizona.

Sawdaye will be the Diamondbacks' assistant GM. As stated by Rotoworld, he had been instrumental in building up the Red Sox' young big league talent and farm system.

The Boston Globe reported today that the Red Sox may not fill the GM vacancy created when Hazen left, instead using "other staffers to take on Hazen’s administrative duties". President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski handles many of the duties traditionally associated with the general manager's position, leaving the actual GM's job in Boston as "essentially an assistant [position] with a lofty title but little power".

The Red Sox have also lost two other front-office members this offseason: Senior baseball analyst Tom Tippett, who had been with the organization for eight years, and director of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek, who had been with the Sox for five years.

McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona

McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona

Sometime over the next 10 or so days, either the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians will win the 2016 World Series.

Naturally, that will mean one of baseball's two longest-suffering franchises will end their championship drought. Either the Cubs will win their first title since 1908, or the Indians will win for the first time since 1948.

That alone should make for an epic World Series.

But there's another bit of history at stake, too - one of legacies.

In addition to the great discomfort felt by Red Sox ownership -- which fired the manager of one participating team and was seemingly happy to hold the door open for the exit of an executive now running the other - it will also almost certainly result, eventually, in either Terry Francona or Theo Epstein being enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

Epstein would go down as the architect who helped two star-crossed franchises win titles - the Red Sox in 2004, and the Cubs this fall.

The Red Sox went 86 years between championships; the Cubs would be ending a run of futility that stretched across 108 seasons.

That would provide Epstein with an unmatched resume when it comes to degree of difficulty. It's one thing to win it all; it's another altogether to do so with the Sox and Cubs, two clubs, until Epstein's arrival, linked in ignominy.

Epstein could become only the fourth GM in modern history win a World Series in both leagues. Frank Cashen (Orioles and Mets); John Schuerholz (Royals and Braves) and Pat Gillick (Blue Jays and Phillies).

He would also join a short list of executives who have won three rings, a list that includes contemporaries Brian Cashman and Brian Sabean.

Of course, Epstein can't claim to have constructed the entire Cubs roster, no more than he could have done when the Red Sox won in '04.

In Boston, Epstein inherited key players such as Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. Similarly, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras pre-date Epstein's arrival on the North Side.

But Epstein is responsible for nearly the remainder of the roster, and hiring manager Joe Maddon, the coaching staff and most of the Baseball Operations staff, including GM Jed Hoyer and scouting director Jason McLeod.

Francona's influence on the Indians is just as obvious.

Hired in late 2012 after spending a year in the ESPN broadcast booth, he inherited a team which had suffered through four straight losing seasons. In the five previous years before Francona's hiring, the Indians averaged just over 72 wins per season.

Since his arrival, the Indians have posted four straight winning seasons, with two playoff appearances, while averaging 88 wins per season.

It hasn't seemed to matter to the Indians that they've been without two of their three best starters (Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco) this postseason or arguably, their best offensive player for all but 11 games this season (Michael Brantley).

The Indians don't make excuses for injuries, or bemoan their modest payroll. Under Francona, they just win.

This postseason, he's made up for the absences in the rotation by masterfully utilizing reliever Andrew Miller anywhere from the fifth to the ninth inning.

A third World Series would put Francona in similarly rare company. Only 10 managers have won three or more World Series and just six have done so since World War 2 - Walter Alston, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Bruce Bochy Sparky Anderson and Casey Stengel.

The individual accomplishments of Epstein and Francona won't take center stage this week and next -- that attention will, rightly, go to their respective beleaguered franchises.

But the subtext shouldn't be overlooked. Once the partying and the parades come to an end, a path to Cooperstown for either the winning manager or winning president of baseball operations can be cleared.