The knuckleballer’s seventh pitch was hammered into the Monster seats by Trevor Plouffe and things didn’t get much better for him after that. The Twins, the worst-hitting team in the American League (.230), rapped out nine hits in knocking out Wakefield after only 4 1/3 innings en route to a 9-2 romp at Fenway Park.
Yes, if normally sure-handed first baseman Adrian Gonzalez had made a play on a ball he generally eats up, costing Wakefield a two-run single in the third, the damage wouldn’t have been as great. And his run-producing balk didn’t help matters, costing the Sox manager Terry Francona in the process. He was ejected because it’s a call that can’t be argued.
Ultimately, though, Wakefield was charged with eight runs, six of which were earned. His earned-run average jumped from 4.08 to 5.73 in 10 games, totaling 22 innings.
Wakefield, in his 17th year in Boston, has 179 wins as a member of the Red Sox, trailing only Young and Clemens, who each posted 192.
Wakefield, who has a career total of 193 victories, including his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, is 44 years, 277 days old, the oldest active player in the majors. Only Deacon McGuire, at 44 years, 280 days, was older when he made a start for the Red Sox on Aug. 24, 1908.
Wakefield has had a magnificent career on the field, and off the field his humanitarian efforts are unparalleled. But his opportunities to catch Cy Young and Roger Clemens are dwindling, and Friday night’s results aren’t going to help him in his bid to secure more chances to start.
Where's the defense? First baseman Adrian Gonzalez is a two-time Gold Glove winner. But somehow, as Gonzalez went to his knees moving to his right, Denard Span’s bouncer got past him, rolling into right field for a two-out, two-run single in the second inning that gave Minnesota a 3-0 lead. One balk later, it was 4-0, and the Red Sox were unable to catch up.
Later in the game, Gonzalez, who clouted his first homer of the year over the Monster seats, made an outstanding diving play going to his right for the final out of the sixth, robbing Danny Valencia of a hit. It was a terrific play -- four innings too late.
And then there was shortstop Jed Lowrie. The Sox still were in the game at 6-2 in the fifth when Drew Butera smoked a hot shot to short. Lowrie, maybe screened by a runner, let the ball slip through him for an error that allowed two more runs to score, making it an 8-2 game.
Later Lowrie wasn’t able to handle a throw from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a stolen-base attempt. The ball was knocked out of his glove and the baserunner scrambled over to third base. Lowrie was charged with his second error of the game and fourth of the season, tying him with Marco Scutaro for the team lead.
Where's the offense? The Red Sox did not score in their final four innings of Wednesday’s marathon 13-inning loss (5-3) to the Angels. They were blanked Thursday, 11-0. Friday night, except for solo homers by J.D. Drew (second inning) and Adrian Gonzalez (fourth), the Sox were able to do very little with Minnesota starter Scott Baker in his eight solid innings.
As for the only other bright spots, Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 15 games and Carl Crawford’s streak reached six games.
Slumping second baseman Dustin Pedroia returned, but a day off didn’t help him any. He went 0 for 3, an ugly 0 for 3 after a first-inning walk. He whiffed, banged into a double play, and flailed at a wide breaking pitch for strike three with runners at second and third and two outs in the eighth.
Thanks, Mr. Wakefield. The Twins’ Trevor Plouffe and Ben Revere each had his first major-league at-bat of the season. And, with the unwitting help of Boston pitcher Tim Wakefield, they each notched a successful debut.
Plouffe clubbed a shoulder-high hanging knuckler for a solo homer into the Monster seats in the first inning. Revere ripped a single to left-center in his first time up this season.
If you're scoring at home. The shift employed by the Red Sox in the first inning against Twins designated hitter Jason Kubel led to an unusual double play.
With a runner at first and one out, Kubel, a left-handed hitter, smacked a bouncer to Boston third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who was wide of the bag. It was a tailor-made double-play ball.
But the second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, was swung way over toward first base on the shift. So shortstop Jed Lowrie, who was positioned behind the second-base bag and shaded a bit to the right-field side of it, stepped in to take Youkilis’ throw for the force-out.
Then Lowrie made a quick relay to first, easily nailing Kubel for the inning-ending double play.
That’s a 5-6-3 DP in the scorebook.