Pen is marked down in latest Red Sox loss
Tim Wakefield knew his fate before he threw a pitch against the Baltimore Orioles yesterday. A perfect game would not have kept the Red Sox from sending him to the bullpen, a decision that rendered the veteran righthander furious.
That Wakefield pitched well into the seventh inning and left the game to a standing ovation only seemed to prove his point.
But the Sox denied him the consolation of a victory. The relievers Wakefield soon will be sharing sunflower seeds and bubble gum with kicked away the lead as Boston lost, 7-6, in 10 innings to the worst team in baseball.
“Obviously disappointing,’’ said Wakefield, an apt summation of the day and season so far.
Wakefield went 6 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits with one walk. He struck out five and guided 74 of his 108 pitches over the plate for strikes. But the 4-1 lead Wakefield handed to Hideki Okajima disappeared quickly.
Nick Markakis ripped an RBI double off the wall in left-center before Miguel Tejada lined a tying homer off the foul pole in left. The blown save denied Wakefield his 190th career victory.
The bullpen allowed three more runs in the 10th inning thanks to a curious and costly decision by manager Terry Francona.
After the oft-used Daniel Bard struck out the side in the ninth on only 15 pitches, Francona went to Scott Atchison to start the next inning. Jonathan Papelbon, who had pitched in four of the previous five games, was not available. But Manny Delcarmen was.
Opponents were hitting .083 against Delcarmen this season and the righthander had not pitched since Tuesday, the night his fastball hit 96 miles per hour for the first time this season. The first three hitters due up for Baltimore — Tejada, Luke Scott, and Ty Wigginton — were 3 for 19 against him.
“We thought about both [Atchison and Delcarmen]. We had Scotty up,’’ Francona said. “We thought he would throw strikes and we didn’t anticipate the inning unfolding the way it did.’’
Atchison (0-1) couldn’t get so much as one out. Tejada singled and went to third on a double by Scott before Wigginton walked to load the bases. Scott Schoeneweis was next out of the bullpen and gave up singles to Rhyne Hughes and Matt Wieters as the Orioles scored three runs.
“I couldn’t get them to chase at a couple of pitches,’’ said Atchison, the pitcher likely to be demoted once Daisuke Matsuzaka joins the rotation on Saturday and Wakefield goes to the bullpen. “That happens sometimes. I didn’t throw the ball overly well. They put together a couple of hits.’’
By the time Delcarmen came in and easily retired the two batters he faced the Sox were down, 7-4.
“I was ready to go no matter when the phone rang for me,’’ Delcarmen said. “I can’t worry about when I come in, that’s for somebody else. They wanted those other guys to get some work.’’
The impact of Francona’s decision was further magnified when the Sox scored two runs on four hits in the bottom of the inning off Jim Johnson (1-1). J.D. Drew had a RBI double and Bill Hall an RBI single.
But Cla Meredith finally ended it, getting Darnell McDonald to foul out and Marco Scutaro on a line drive to second with two runners on. It was the first save in 272 career relief appearances for the former Red Sox prospect.
It was only the third win in 19 games for the Orioles, who had lost 10 consecutive games against the Red Sox and 15 of their previous 16 games at Fenway Park.
“We certainly cannot celebrate, that would be pretty bush league,’’ Meredith said. “But it will make the flight home a little bit better.’’
Baltimore starter David Hernandez shut the Sox down over the first five innings, allowing two hits. But his 1-0 lead was imperiled when Dustin Pedroia drew a leadoff walk in the sixth inning and Victor Martinez singled to right.
When Kevin Youkilis lined an RBI single into left field, Orioles manager Dave Trembley went to lefthanded reliever Mark Hendrickson. Francona had a decision to make but stuck with David Ortiz despite his being 5 for 28 against Hendrickson.
In a similar situation Tuesday night against Texas, Francona pinch hit Mike Lowell for Ortiz. The prideful Ortiz later called it his most embarrassing moment in a Red Sox uniform.
This time, Ortiz slapped an RBI single into center field. A sacrifice fly by Drew gave the Sox a 3-1 lead. A single by Beltre and Lowell’s pinch-hit double off Jason Berken added another run.
That looked like enough for Wakefield before the bullpen gave the game away.
“He deserved better than that,’’ Beltre said. “It wasn’t right.’’