Tim Wakefield recorded five outs in his first 12 pitches tonight. Then he threw 37 more and stalked off the mound having made zero more outs and allowing the game to spiral. The Rangers scored seven runs like this: double, walk, walk, single, single, hit by pitch, walk, walk.
Wakefield’s 500th appearance with the Red Sox was also his shortest start wearing the uniform. His only start shorter, on June 11, 1993 against the Florida Marlins, came with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In between then and tonight, Wakefield made 369 starts.
All of them went better than this one. Wakefield’s sudden, shocking demise resulted from scatter-shot control. He missed up, down, outside, inside, with no correlation from one pitch to the next. His final line: four hits, seven rurns (all earned), four walks, one wild pitch and a hit batter.
Chris Smith came into the game and picked off Hank Blalock to end the inning, a tin-foil lining to an inning that saw the Red Sox fall behind the Rangers, 7-1, after two.