Wakefield rocked as Sox fall hard again, 9-2

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Wakefield rocked as Sox fall hard again, 9-2

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Twins entered last nights game with a record of 11-18, one of just two teams with a worse record in the American League than the Red Sox. They were worst team in baseball at scoring runs, with just 89 this season, the fewest in baseball. Their pitchers had allowed 151 runs, tied for fourth-most. Those numbers did little to help the Red Sox Friday night at Fenway, as they fell to the Twins 9-2 at Fenway Park.

Over the last two games, Red Sox starting pitching has sorely been lacking. Friday night it was Tim Wakefields turn. Starting in place of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was pushed back to Sunday after pitching an inning of relief, and taking the loss, in Wednesdays marathon game with the Angels, Wakefield lasted just 4 13 innings against the Twins, his second start of the season. He allowed eight runs (six earned) one nine hits and four walks with a strikeout and a balk.

Wakefield gave up a solo home run in the first inning to Trevor Plouffe in his first plate appearance of the season. He gave up three more in the second, including one on a balk. Manager Terry Francona came out to discuss the call with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez and was ejected.

In the fifth, Wakefield gave up a walk and four hits while recording just one out, before giving way to Alfredo Aceves, who was called up before the game. Wakefield left two runners on base for Aceves. After Aceves struck out his first batter, the Twins scored two more on Jed Lowries first of two errors on the night. Wakefield took the loss, falling to 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA.

The Sox offense, meanwhile, could do little with Twins starter Scott Baker, who went eight innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and a walk, with eight strikeouts. The two runs came on solo homers by J.D. Drew in the second and Adrian Gonzalez in the fourth. Baker earned the win, improving to 2-2, with a 2.97 ERA.

With the loss, the Sox fall to 14-18.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Scott Baker

The Twins right-hander kept the Red Sox off balance and off the scoreboard for most of the night, except for solo home runs by J.D. Drew and Adrian Gonzalez. In his fifth start of the season, he improved to 2-2, lowering his ERA to 2.97. Except for the home runs, he allowed just one baserunner to reach third Carl Crawford on Jarrod Saltalamacchias ground-rule double in the eight, his final inning.

It was his first career win against the Sox, in his fifth appearance (fourth start).

Throw hard, Jed Lowrie said of what made Baker successful. He was consistently in the low to mid 90s all night, and locating it, and throwing the slider and changeup enough to keep people off balance. Just had good stuff tonight.

HONORABLE MENTION: Trevor Plouffe

In his first plate appearance of 2011, Plouffe, who was called up Wednesday, homered off Wakefield in the first inning for the Twins first run of the game. He went 2-for-4 and was on base four times, with a walk, and reaching on a fielders choice, and scored three times. It was also during his second-inning at-bat that Tim Wakefield balked, scoring the Twins fourth run of the game, third of the inning.

THE GOAT: Tim Wakefield

Although Wakefield was making just his second start of the season, the Red Sox and their bullpen, which was still recovering from 8 23 innings in the marathon game that started Wednesday night and ended in the wee hours of Thursday morning needed him to go deeper, and better, in this game. In his last start, May 1 against the Mariners, he went 5 23 innings, throwing 76 pitches, giving up just one run on three hit. Something along those lines would have helped. Instead, he lasted just 4 13 innings, throwing 84 pitches, giving up eight runs (six earned) on nine hits with four walks, a strikeout, and a balk. Alfredo Aceves, who was called up just before the game, finished the rest of the game, 4 13 innings. Aceves longest outing this season is five innings in a start for Pawtucket on April 29. Availability for his next game is uncertain. Likewise, Wakefield probably wont be available for several days either.

I had a little trouble today, said Wakefield, who fell to 0-1, with a 5.73 ERA. Obviously I walked four guys and couldnt find the strike zone and when I did, one ball was hit out of the park and the other one was a double a couple of doubles. Other than that this wasnt a good night.

Just one of those nights. Tried to get us deep in the game and that didn't happen. So Im disappointed in that. Were trying to rest guys and the bullpens been taxed the last couple of days and I take a lot of pride in trying to give us innings and I didnt get into the fifth, so

THE TURNING POINT

With the Twins up, 3-0, in the second inning, two outs, two runs already across the plate in the inning, and runners on first and third, it appeared Wakefield, who faked a throw to third and threw to first, had picked Ben Revere off first base. Instead, homeplate umpire Angel Hernandez immediately called a balk. Instead of the Sox getting out of the inning, the Twins scored another run.

Manager Terry Francona approached Hernandez for an explanation of the play. He was quickly rebuffed and ejected. The situation escalated with Francona frustrated in his inability to get an explanation. Crew chief Joe West, umpiring third base, attempted to intervene, but the situation rapidly deteriorated. Francona became irate at Wests attempts to hold him away from Hernandez. As Francona left the field, he removed his tobacco from his mouth, firing it in Hernandezs direction. Francona will likely face a suspension and possible a fine for his efforts.

West was grabbing me, Francona said. I didnt appreciate that. I thought it was wrong. I thought he was out of line.

The scene represented a microcosm of the Sox 2011 season frustration, an inability to find answers, and coming out on the losing end.

STAT OF THE DAY: .316

The Twins entered the game hitting a combined .230, last in the American League, 28th out of 30 major league teams. Against the Sox Friday night, they went 12-for-38, (.316) raising their team average to three points to .233.

Lead-off Span, Plouffe, Michael Cuddyer, and Danny Valencia each had two hits.

QUOTE OF NOTE:

Were not going to use yesterday as an excuse for today. In that game we were here till 3 in the morning playing, 2:30, whatever it was. It doesnt matter. We got to move on.

--Jed Lowrie, if the long game that started Wednesday evening and ended almost eight hours later, at 2:45 Thursday morning with the Sox losing to the Angels has had any emotional or physical toll on the team.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Drellich: Red Sox could have delivered better message on concussions

Drellich: Red Sox could have delivered better message on concussions

BOSTON — The right thing for a player to do, if a player has concussion-like symptoms, is report them immediately. For the player’s own health. 

Red Sox manager John Farrell on Saturday afternoon was not critical of Josh Rutledge’s apparent choice to keep the symptoms to himself. Rather, he praised Rutledge’s competitive spirit. 

Farrell was backing up his player, which is his job — to an extent. Concussions, minor as they can sometimes seem, are not the arena where a major league manager should deliver anything but a uniform message to the public: tell someone what you’re feeling.

Rutledge was in Friday’s lineup before he was scratched late because of what was announced as left hip soreness. On Saturday, the Red Sox announced he went to the seven-day disabled list with a concussion that is believed to have occurred May 29 in Chicago, almost a month ago.

“There was a play, when Pedey [Dustin Pedroia] came out of the game on Memorial Day in Chicago, Rut replaced him,” Farrell said. “There was a diving play that he made in center field and that’s the one event that he can pinpoint to that might have been the cause for it. So while he was dealing with some symptoms along the way, felt like he was going to be able to manage them but they really manifested themselves yesterday to the point where he had to say something. 

“The lack of focus, the loss of spin on certain pitches while he was hitting, that became more evident. And then when he went through the ImPACT [Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test] and the assessment, there were a number of fields that they test for that indicates he’s got a concussion.”

Asked if in a perfect world, Rutledge would have said something about the concussion symptoms right away, Farrell said Rutledge would have done so within a couple days.

“But again, the fact that he can’t — I mean, he pinpoints that one event,” Farrell said. “But feeling like he may get past those. I mean, perfect world is a player who [does] as he did. He’s trying to compete and give you everything he has. But at the same time, particularly with a concussion, we don’t know anything until a player indicates. So I can’t fault him for wanting to stay on the field.”

What manager wouldn’t love a player who wants to stay on the field? But that can’t be the bottom-line message when it comes to head injuries.

Farrell was asked if the amount of time between when the concussion was believed to be suffered and the diagnosis meant there was a hole in baseball’s concussion protocol.

“No. There isn’t,” Farrell said. “This is very much a two-way street. When a player doesn’t want to succumb to some of the symptoms at the time he was dealing with — and I fully respect Rut for taking the approach he did. Here’s a guy that’s dealt with some injuries along the way. Didn’t want to make excuses for the slump that he might have been in offensively. But it grew to the point where he couldn’t continue on.”

The point is to never let it grow in the first place. From May 30 on, Rutledge hit .169 with 22 strikeouts and four walks spanning 16 starts and 19 games.

Rutledge, a Rule 5 pick for whom playing time is extra valuable, won’t be the last player to attempt to play through a concussion. He has a responsibility to speak up. Publicly, Farrell did not hammer home that message Saturday.

Eduardo Rodriguez slated to start in Double-A Thursday; could return early July

Eduardo Rodriguez slated to start in Double-A Thursday; could return early July

BOSTON — Helped by a custom knee brace, starter Eduardo Rodriguez could make an early July return to the Red Sox if all goes right from here.

The lefty threw a sim game Saturday at Fenway Park, his first time facing hitters since a right knee subluxation at the start of June. He’s to stay on a five-day schedule and is slated to start for Double-A Portland on Thursday if he comes out of Saturday feeling well.

Rodriguez threw 68 pitches Saturday, manager John Farrell said, and is to throw 75-80 for Portland.

"The key for me is seeing the height of the leg kick,” Farrell said. “The brace that he's wearing now gives him such a greater feeling of stability in the knee that he can be more assertive with the lower half, so the delivery is much more Eddie-like than when he had to adjust in that game in Baltimore.”

One rehab start would be ideal, Farrell said. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said on Friday that Doug Fister could theoretically move to the bullpen upon Rodriguez's return. That’s still a few steps away, though. 

One, Rodriguez needs to get all the way back. Two, Fister needs to perform well enough that the Sox feel he’s worth holding on to. Fister’s first start is to come Sunday.

Rodriguez's progress has been encouraging to the Sox since he began to rehab. Without a setback, he'd return before the All-Star break, setting the team up well for the second half.