DETROIT -- The tendency is to assume that Tim Wakefield is in the valedictory stage of what has been a rich and varied career, a time when longtime foes pay their respects the way Jim Leyland did Friday.
“He’s everything that’s good about the game of baseball,’’ said the Detroit Tigers' manager, who held the same job in Pittsburgh when Wakefield made his big league debut for the Pirates a century ago. (Well, it was last century, but technically it was just 19 years ago. Poetic license, and all that.)
Still, just when you think the 44-year-old Wakefield is at the point of taking a final victory lap, he goes out and generates more victories instead. The man just simply isn’t ready for a life of golf dates and watching his kids grow up. Not when he can still make his knuckleball dance on a string only he can see.
And if the Wall Street bailout had worked as effectively as Wakefield and Alfredo Aceves have rescued the tattered Sox rotation, we’d all be buying vacation homes with the money we made in our 401k's.
Wakefield was touched for a run in each of the first two innings Friday night, one on a 430-foot home run by Jhonny Peralta, then held Leyland’s Tigers to just two singles over the next five innings before giving way to Daniel Bard as the Sox won 6-3 at Comerica Park.
Wakefield has made two starts since John Lackey (elbow) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (worse elbow) went on the disabled list and has won them both. Aceves also has made two starts, allowing a run apiece, and has a win and a no-decision.
Wakefield went six innings against the Cubs last Sunday and allowed a run on five hits. Friday, he went deeper -- seven innings -- and allowed only five hits again.
And what had looked like a quixotic quest to become the winningest pitcher in Sox history is back on again. Wakefield would have to go on a heck of a run to do it this season, but Wakefield now has 181 wins, just 11 away from tying Cy Young and Roger Clemens for most W’s recorded in a Sox uniform.
Run support appears like it will be less and less of an issue, for Wakefield or any other Sox pitcher. The Sox did not match their 14-run output in each of their previous two games, the first time in their history they’d won consecutive road games by 12 or more runs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
But for the third straight game, an opposing starter didn’t make it past the third inning, as the Sox used a five-run rally to hasten the departure of Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello, who succumbed to home runs by Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford and a two-run double by Kevin Youkilis.
Tigers left-hander Charlie Furbush, a native of South Portland, Maine, finally stopped the bleeding with five scoreless innings of relief, but by then the Sox were well on their way to their 12th win in their past 14 games, raising their record in May to 18-7, best in the majors.
Jonathan Papelbon gave up a run in the ninth, but struck out two of the last three Tigers hitters to end it.
To read Gordon's complete column on Tim Wakefield, CLICK HERE.