Can the Rays break Wake in ALCS Game 4?

Updated: October 13, 2008

Greg M. Cooper/US Presswire

Tim Wakefield is 0-2 with a 5.87 ERA in three starts against the Rays this season.


Tim Wakefield has faced the Rays 31 times in his career, but no start will be more important than the one he makes in Game 4 of the ALCS at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

There was a time when Wakefield was more effective against the Rays than any other pitcher. From 2001 to 2007, Wakefield went 16-1 against them. But more recently, the Rays have been able to figure out the veteran knuckleballer, and another win against him would give them a huge advantage in this series.

Wakefield vs. Rays
Advantage Wakefield
B.J. Upton .227 22 (0 XBH)
Carlos Pena .133 30
Rocco Baldelli .115 26
Cliff Floyd .091 11
Advantage hitter
Evan Longoria .500 8 (2 BB)
Akinori Iwamura .417 29 (3 2B)
Carl Crawford .305 85 (2 HR)
Dioner Navarro .333 15
Note: Willy Aybar and Fernando Perez both homered in only plate appearance vs. Wakefield.

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Looking ahead to Game 4 of the ALCS, you have to think the Rays will use their speed against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. They'll try to jump on any opportunity to go from first to third or steal a base.

To keep the Rays from running wild in Game 4, Wakefield needs to think about mixing up his pace on the mound. Whatever you can do to speed up your delivery helps keep baserunners in check. At the same time, a knuckleballer needs to have his legs under him and take his time to make sure he gets that ball to home with some good movement. A guy like Wakefield is going to be able to get you out with that nasty knuckleball, but in turn, when you do get on base, you should be able to steal some bases. Wakefield's been doing this a long time, and he'll give the Rays some different looks.

The Rays' speed has already made an impact in this series. The decision to keep the speedy Fernando Perez on the playoff roster paid off. He entered Game 2 in the 11th inning as a pinch runner and wound up scoring the winning run on B.J. Upton's sacrifice fly to shallow right field. Not many players would have tried to score on such a fly ball, but Perez was able to do because of his speed. Had he not been stealing third base when Jason Bartlett grounded out to third, he wouldn't have been in position to win the game.


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Inside Edge According to Inside Edge's scouting data, pitchers are most likely to waste a pitch out of the zone on 0-2 counts, when the league average strike percentage is 53 percent, compared to 63 percent on other counts. Some attack the zone on 0-2, typically premium relievers and closers. Boston starter Tim Wakefield ranks near the top, however, with his 65 mph knuckleball:

0-2 counts: Top 5 strike throwers
Pitcher Team Strike %
Jonathan Broxton Dodgers 71.6
Scott Baker Twins 70.0
Scot Shields Angels 69.9
Rafael Perez Indians 69.3
Tim Wakefield Red Sox 68.8


1964: Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle hit back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches, pacing the New York Yankees to an 8-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the World Series.

1969: New York Mets center fielder Tommie Agee makes two spectacular catches against the Baltimore Orioles in Game 3 of the World Series. Agee adds a home run to help the Mets to a 5-0 win.

1976: Chris Chambliss of the New York Yankees hits a dramatic ninth-inning home run against Mark Littell of the Kansas City Royals, giving the Yankees their first American League pennant since 1964.

1984: Kirk Gibson hits two home runs to lead the Detroit Tigers to an 8-4 win over the San Diego Padres in the fifth and final game of the World Series. Sparky Anderson becomes the first manager to win world championships in both leagues.

1992: Pinch-hitter Francisco Cabrera delivers a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth, scoring the tying and winning runs for the Atlanta Braves in the seventh game of the National League Championship Series. Cabrera's heroics give the Braves a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

2000: Giving the Yankees a 3-1 lead in the ALCS, Roger Clemens strikes out a record-setting 15 and one-hits the Mariners, 5-0.

2002: Light-hitting second baseman Adam Kennedy becomes the fifth player to hit three homers in a postseason game, helping the Angels to secure their first World Series berth in the team's 42-year history. Using a 10-run seventh inning, the Angels beat the Twins 13-5 to win the ALCS in five games.

2003: Three walks, three singles, three doubles, an error, and one ball grabbed by a fan lead to a stunning 8-3 loss for the Cubs in Game 6 of the NLCS against the Florida Marlins. With Chicago leading 3-0 in the eighth inning at Wrigley Field, and needing just five outs to reach their first World Series in 58 years, the Cubs fall apart and the Marlins rally. Eight runs score in the inning, all of them after a Cubs fan (Steve Bartman) interferes with a fly ball along the left-field line. The Marlins defeat the Cubs the next day to advance to the World Series.

2006: With a 6-3 victory in Game 4 of the ALCS, Jim Leyland's Detroit Tigers sweep the Oakland Athletics to win the American League pennant for the first time since 1984. Magglio Ordonez's dramatic walk-off homer sets off a wild celebration.