Tim Wakefield: Red Sox Ace? No, Red Sox Savior

Dan McConeCorrespondent IMay 20, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 15:  Tim Wakefield #49 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game on April 15, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

The Red Sox, mired in an awful 2-6 start to the 2009 season, was in the last game of a miserable West Coast trip.  On the mound was Tim Wakefield.

Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, the co-aces, were beaten around by the Angels and Athletics.  

Daisuke Matsuzaka was put on the DL with a fatigued arm.

Brad Penny was no help. 

The bullpen was taxed beyond belief.  Starters were barely getting to the fifth inning.

On the mound was Tim Wakefield.  The 14-year veteran took the hill and quite simply saved the Red Sox season.  He carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Athletics before a base hit by Kurt Suzuki ended his bid.  

A complete game and two earned run on four hits, saved the Sox and it’s tiring bullpen. Boston had the day off after a long road trip.  

His outing began an 11-game winning streak for Boston and the Sox have played much better since then.

Last night, with a chance to dwindle Toronto’s grasp of first place in the A.L. East, Wakefield came though again. This time was an eight inning, with one earned (old friend Kevin Millar took him deep) and five hit performance.  Sox won 2-1. 

Wakefield was able to save Julio Lugo after another error committed by a Sox shortstop. 

Toronto’s lead is now shaved to two and half games.  Once again, it’s Wakefield taking to the lead.

With supposed co-ace’s Lester and Beckett at a combined 6-6 with a 6.21 ERA.  Beckett and Lester have combined for eight quality starts.  Lester has been giving up the long ball more often this year than any other with an alarming 10 in eight starts.  

But Wakefield is 5-2 with a 3.59 ERA.  His only no-decision was a seven inning, one-hit, shutout performance in Cleveland.  The Sox eventually won it 3-1 on a ninth inning home run from Jason Bay.  

Wakefield has only gone for five innings or less in two outings.  He’s averaging nearly six and two thirds innings per outing.  That equals big time rest for the bullpen.  When the flutter-ball is on, he’s averaging a 66:34 ratio on fly ball to ground ball outs.  When it’s not knee buckling, he’s running an 54:46 ratio.

What's the best thing about Wakefield?  How about his rubber arm?  The man is 42 years old and in five appearances he’s thrown over 100 pitches, topping out at 112 in that gem in Cleveland.  Last night, he tossed 96 beautiful pitches.

Let’s face it: Tim Wakefield is not the early season favorite for Cy Young and he’s probably not in the top five.   But, the veteran Sox pitcher has done nothing but save this team when despair was upon them. 

The bullpen's saved.

The season's saved (so far).

Thank the team savior, Tim Wakefield.


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