Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It was an October night in 2004. The Red Sox were getting pounded by the New York Yankees in game 3 of the AL Championship Series, eventually losing 19-8. The Red Sox bullpen was in tatters. So Tim Wakefield, normally a starter and always the consumate team player, took the mound in relief and provided Terry Francona with 3.1 innings of invaluable relief. This helped to preserve the bullpen and set the stage for the Sox comeback over the Yankees and first World Series victory in 86 years.

The circumstances weren't quite as dire today, in only the 9th game of the season, but Tim Wakefield came up just as big. Last night's debacle involved Daisuke Matsuzaka giving up five runs in one inning before heading to the DL and the bullpen putting in 11 innings before the Sox lost in 12 innings.

The Red Sox really needed a good, long, innings-eating start out of Wake today and they got it. Wake no-hit the A's for 7.1 innings and ended up with a complete game 8-2 win. He kept the relievers in the bullpen and, combined with tomorrow's day off, gives them a much needed stretch of rest. He also gave the now 3-6 Sox a much needed win and helps them to avoid a sweep in Oakland.

Tim Wakefield will never be a Hall of Famer, but he has been a reliable part of the Red Sox for 15 years now. He has started, pitched long relief, closed and always has done whatever asked. He is third in Red Sox career wins (behind a couple of guys named Cy Young and Roger Clemens). He has been a huge part of the success this team has had over the past few years.

One bit of Wake trivia. With 15 seasons in a Sox uniform, he is 5th all-time in years with the team. The first four? Guys named Yaz (23 years), Ted Williams and Dwight Evans (19 years) and Jim Rice (16 years). Three Hall of Famers and one of the greatest outfielders in history isn't bad company.


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