If you think I am going to apologize for everything I have said about Tim Wakefield this year, you’re crazy. So don’t hold you breathe waiting for me to upgrade his stock from underperform to neutral. And don’t expect to hear me endorse any calls for Wake to rejoin the staff on a permanent basis because that isn’t happening, at least not anytime soon. But I will say this. Tim Wakefield pitched well yesterday. Tim Wakefield has bailed the Red Sox twice this month. And Tim Wakefield appears in one of those four-game “zones” where he actually looks like a solid major league starter.
Listen, ordinary (or worse) pitchers can pitch good games. There simply is now law or constitutional amendment banning the middling from occasionally twirling a gem. And that is what Wakefield did yesterday. He threw an excellent game against an excellent lineup while facing one of baseball’s best pitchers. Eight innings, five hits, no earned runs and just two walks. Tossed in the mix were seventeen flyball outs, only a handful of which were threatening, which is quite a feat in Philly where check swings to the opposite field sometimes have a chance. All told, Wakefield shut down Philly’s lineup and left the bullpen in perfect shape as the Sox head down to Tampa for three. Mission accomplished and then some.
The Sox were +190 in Vegas yesterday in part because of Wakefield’s appearance and in part because the team was facing Roy Halladay. Quite frankly, I was surprised it wasn’t +240. But Wakefield did his part and the Sox offense did more than enough to secure that $190. Granted, the offense got a little help from a Greg Dobbs error, but they were squaring up everything in the fourth and sixth innings. Youkilis slammed a triple and a bomb off Doc, Martinez and Drew each nutted a couple of balls and Beltre added a couple of hits to the mix. Often times, Doc shuts the Sox down when they get aggressive and pound his stuff into the ground. Those days usually end in three-hit complete games. But yesterday, the Sox were aggressive but Halladay was having trouble keeping stuff down and the Sox made him pay. It was an excellent job on a day when Vegas wasn’t on board.
Other thoughts …..
* Now through the end of May, if you want an order of wings from the bar and you want them hot, just say” I want a dozen Youkies.” Because folks, Kevin Youkilis is on fire! The slash for May now reads .397/.571/.810. He has some tough matchups looming in Tampa but if Youkilis can manage to rack up at least a few hits in Florida, the AL player of the month is all his.
* If Kevin Youkilis deserves an endorsement for hot sauce, Dustin Pedroia is in line to market some popsicles because he is shivering right now. Riding a 4-39 slump, Dustin’s laser show is looking more like a snowglobe.
* Yesterday was Victor Martinez’ fourth multi-hit game in a row and fifth in six games. Perhaps his agent finally informed Victor that the free agent market for DHs who slug .390 is typically not too bright.
* Anyone else hold their breath when Mrs Ellsbury took that spill while running down a ball in center yesterday? I could have swore we were about to lose Ellsbury for another five weeks.
* At this point, Ramon Ramirez is useless. If it takes thirty pitches to close out an 8-0 game, then perhaps it’s time to find a new mop up guy.
* FARM REPORT: It was not a great day down on the farm as most of the bigger names failed to post news. But one guy who keeps chugging along is Salem (high-A) third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who had two more hits yesterday, lifting his slash to .345/.437/.521. Middlebrooks was considered a five-tools kind of guy when the Sox picked him in 2007 and gave him a million dollar signing bonus. At first, it looked like the decision might be a bust, but WMB had a pretty good second half last year and he has put it all together in 2010. I think some farm observers have been waiting patiently on WMB before getting too excited by this start, but May has confirmed April and it looks like a promotion looms in the not too distant future. Curious to see what the Sox do at third this offseason if WMB carries this start through the Summer and up to Portland.
* So, ten games into a murderous thirteen game stretch and the Sox stand 6-4. Give the Sox one of these next three and the stretch will be deemed a success. Give them two and it would be time to pop some corks.