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The last few weeks have not gone well for the Red Sox. Whether the correct word is panic or injury, the Sox have watched themselves fall from first place to second in the AL East and are now watching what was a done deal – the Wild Card – become a sprint to the finish. Fresh off his 200th win, Tim Wakefield took to the mound in an attempt to stop or contain the surging Tampa Bay Rays.
A windy day in Boston didn’t spell success for Wakefield and his knuckle-ball, both of which thrive inside a dome. Sure enough there were hit batters, wild pitches and passed balls. In addition to robbing David Ortiz of late-game heroics by bringing down a home run just short of the bullpen wall, the wind helped Wakefield’s sub-70 MPH offerings give catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia a workout.
When the ball was not being hit hard by Tampa, the Rays were stealing bases. Joe Maddon has continued to be aggressive when his team is on the base-paths and today was no exception: the Rays collected four steals. This is down from their high of seven a few days ago, but not a good sign. While Salty has improved at the running game as the season has progressed the speed of the Rays was just too much.
Talented lefty David Price was struck just above the R in “Rays” on his jersey when a comebacker by Mike Aviles was shot up the middle. While Price initially remained in the game, he would depart after the fourth inning as a precaution.In only a week the Rays have cut the Red Sox lead for the American League Wild Card from seven games to just two. Thankfully the Baltimore Orioles are on the horizon and the Yankees have started resting their regulars. At the moment, the Red Sox need every edge they can get while Kevin Youkilis and Erik Bedard try to heal their ailments.
Filling in for Kevin Youkilis isn’t easy to do, but Aviles did alright today going 2-5 with a home run and three RBI.
With his long run to 200 wins finally over, Tim Wakefield looks like time is finally no longer on his side.
W: Jake McGee (3-1)
L: Tim Wakefield (7-7)
S: Joel Peralta (5)