Tim Wakefield and the “Fourth Inning” are getting along this season about as well as Debrahlee Lorenzana (the “Sexy Teller”) and Citibank. Yesterday, it was more of the same as Wakefield cruised through three and finished strong. But muddling things up was another rough fourth inning, where he gave up five straight hits and four runs. Less you think this was some sort of anomaly, here are Wakefield’s fourth inning numbers on the year: 9.2 innings, 24 hits, 18 earned runs, and an ERA of 16.77. In the other innings, Wakefield’s ERA is a very respectable 3.70.
It’s not like the Red Sox have a lot of options at this point. So every five days, you just have to close your eyes and hope the roulette ball doesn’t land on black 49, the “Bad Wakefield.” Yesterday, Wakefield did a good enough job, keeping the Sox in the game after his meltdown, but those four runs in the fourth dug the Sox a hole they could not pull themselves from.
So another “sweep” opportunity circled the drain and this just happened to be the fourth series in a row where the Sox have won the first two games and lost the third. That isn’t the worst problem in the world to have but once in a while, it would be nice to clean one of these series up. After all, that is how you do real damage in the standings ….. three steps forward instead of two forward and one back.
While Wakefield was busy doing his thing, the offense cooled off a bit after two wild days of partying with Philly pitching. I guess a Sunday letdown should have been expected, especially since the lineup was short Kevin Youkilis, one of two Sox who have blasted left-handed pitching this season. And with Cole Hamels’ left arm doing the throwing yesterday, Youkilis was missed.
As such, the Sox offense limped along most of the afternoon. Outside of blast from Adrian Beltre and a ninth inning rally of JC Romero, the Sox were quiet, particularly Youk’s replacement Mike Lowell who went 0-2 with runners in scoring position. On the bright side, Dustin Pedroia looks like he got the laser show working again, as he scratched out three hits and Boston’s newest sensation, Daniel Nava, picked up two more hits, including his second double in two days. It wasn’t Boston’s finest day at the plate but you can’t score nine runs every time out.
* You know who isn’t thrilled to hear that U.S. Goalkeeper Tim Howard will be playing this Friday with a set of sore ribs? I’ll tell you who ….. Jacoby Ellsbury.
* What in Gods name has happened to Jed Lowrie? Last I heard, he was swinging a bat and working out in Florida, having finally turned the corner on his bout with mono. But that was about four weeks ago. Theoretically, a healthy Lowrie would be the perfect candidate to replace Lowell on the roster but it’s looking more and more like 2010 will be ANOTHER entirely lost season for Lowrie. You figure best case scenario, Lowrie heads north this week or next and might be ready for an August 1 summons. But even that schedule seems ambitious given Lowrie’s history.
* FARM REPORT: Sunday’s big effort came from the Sox third round pick from 2008, Stephen Fife. The twenty-three year old right-hander, who Sox Prospects has rated at #15, threw six scoreless innings against streaking Akron yesterday. In doing so, Fife allowed two hits, no walks and struck out five. Fife struggled a bit last season at high-A but his production this season at Portland has been pretty solid. He probably won’t sniff Pawtucket anytime soon but if he throws this Summer like he did yesterday, Fife should be a member of an excellent Pawsox rotation next season.