MINNEAPOLIS — Tim Wakefield has many admirable qualities. The ability to not say what he must have been thinking was paramount among them tonight.
Wakefield was making his third attempt at winning his 200th game. His defense cost him three runs in the second inning as two balls were misplayed in the outfield and Jarrod Saltalamacchia dropped what would have been an out at the plate.
Then he hung around long enough for the relentless Red Sox offense to get on track and give him the lead, only to see Alfredo Aceves vulture the win.
“Just happy that we won,” said Wakefield, whose expression did not necessarily reflect those words. “I felt like I had a good knuckleball all night.”
Wakefield stayed on the right side of the line in his postgame comments, expressing no disappointment.
“My job as a starter is to give us quality inning and go deep in the game. In the last three starts, we’ve won two out of three of them,” he said. “That’s the most important thing, keeping our lead in the American League East.”
But it has to be hard on him. At 45, the possibility of injury is magnified. He's also losing time on any chance he has to catch Roger Clemens and Cy Young atop the Red Sox career list. He's six wins shy of those guys.
His teammates know how important those marks are.
“We’re trying for him,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “It didn’t happen for him tonight, but he’ll get it. We’ve all seen how consistent he’s been over the years. We’re trying our hardest to get him some runs and get him that win.”
Meanwhile the Sox had 17 hits on a night they gave their cleanup hitter a rest, David Ortiz hit a ball about nine miles and Jonathan Papelbon continued to dice up hitters like the Slap-Chop. He has allowed two hits without a walk in his last 10 innings and struck out 12.
Ortiz has the line of the night when asked about scoring from third base in the eighth inning. Joe Mauer had him dead to rights and fumbled the ball away.
“He heard the big elephant coming. He was shaking when I was coming in," said Big Papi, laughing heartily.
By then, he was almost alone in the clubhouse, his teammates having sought out their hotel beds after a long 24 hours of travel and work.
That seems like a good idea for beat writers, too. Good night, all.
Catch me tomorrow morning with Toucher & Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub.