Game 50: Pitching Offensive As Royals Crown Red Sox, 12-5

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Game 50: Pitching Offensive As Royals Crown Red Sox, 12-5

Caption: In a scene that has become all-too-familiar during Red Sox games, a Red Sox starter hands the baseball to manager Terry Francona after getting bombed. Last night, it was Tim Wakefield’s turn to get pulled mid-inning, after surrendering a grand slam to shortstop Yunieski Betancourt that gave Kansas City a 9-5 lead. The Red Sox lost, 12-5.

Last night at Fenway Park, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was as brutal as brutal gets. If anyone needed a reminder as to the reason manager Terry Francona decided he would be moved to the bullpen when Daisuke Matsuzaka returned to the rotation, it was Wakefield himself who provided that reminder with an utterly abysmal performance.

The problem is the knuckle ball is inconsistent. It cannot be depended upon. The pitcher doesn’t know where it is going, the catcher doesn’t know where it’s going, and the hitter doesn’t know where it’s going. Sometimes it dances…and at other times it doesn’t go anywhere.

And when you’re trying to climb over two rivals in the standings, you need something more consistent from your starting pitchers than to throw the ball and cross your fingers. (Yeah, I know, I know - that is exactly what we’ve been getting from Beckett and, now, from Matsuzaka. What’s a manager to do?)

Last night, Wakefield allowed nine runs on 12 hits and three walks in just 3.2 IP. It was the fourth time in seven starts this season that he allowed five or more runs in an outing… and that just won’t cut the mustard in the AL East.

Red Sox Nation may be fond of the right-hander, and he may not be happy about pitching out of the bullpen, but he has not shown he is capable of providing the ball club with anything resembling a consistent performance when he takes the ball. And given my choice of Beckett, Matsuzaka and our favorite knuckleballer going to the bullpen, I say it’s gotta be knucksie.

He was staked to leads of 3-0 and 5-2, but he was unable to get through the fourth inning, when he surrendered seven runs, including a grand slam to light-hitting shortstop Yunieski Betancourt with his last pitch. And this was against the KANSAS CITY ROYALS—a team, with last night’s output, is now slightly better than league-average in runs scored (having played one MORE game than league average)…This wasn’t the New York Yankees!

EVERY Royals hitter had at least one hit. EVERY Royals hitter scored at least one run.

Wakefield’s ERA now stands at 5.68 - which is slightly better than Ramon Ramirez’ mark of 5.85 (1 IP, 1 ER) and only slightly worse than Hideki Okajima’s 5.40 (.1 IP, 2 ER). The three were responsible for yielding all of the Royals tallies last night.

Of his performance, Wakefield said: “When I left the bullpen I thought I had really good stuff. I had good stuff in the first inning. I just wasn’t able to repeat that.”

Umm, no kidding! Unfortunately, the game of baseball is nine innings long, not one.

After a good first inning, his night got increasingly worse. He wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, surrendered a pair of runs in the third, and then got pasted in the fourth. And while the manager and coaching staff might say something trite like, “everyone has one of those days,” the fact of the matter is that Wakefield has now had four of those days in seven starts.

Tim, if you want to know the reasons you’ll be back in the bullpen when Beckett is ready to return to action, save last night’s game on your DVR and watch it… THAT will provide you all the answers you need.

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Kevin Youkilis reached base for the 27th straight game… he drew his 30th and 31st walks of the month.

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