Game 76: Red Sox (44-31) @ Pirates (38-37)
Tim Wakefield has won 183 games, lost 162 others, pitched 574 times and accrued 2914 2/3 innings since he last pitched in a Pirates uniform. That final outing was a complete game shutout over the Phillies on Sept. 30, 1993. He actually finished the year with two straight shutouts. Wakefield spent the ’94 season in the Minors and then was released by Pittsburgh in April 1995.
The Red Sox picked Wakefield up days later and the rest is history.
The right-hander is 44 years old now and has the distinction of being the Majors’ oldest active player. And now his career is coming back to the place he started. Wakefield has not pitched in Pittsburgh since that shut out over the Phillies, though that will change later tonight when he opposes Jeff Karstens at PNC Park. His only other appearance against the Pirates came when the Pirates traveled to Boston in 2005. PNC Park will be the 40th different park Wakefield has pitched in.
The good news for the Pirates is that they have already defeated knuckleballer R.A. Dickey twice this year. I’d say that perhaps that has the Pirates ready to face Wakefield, but we all know there is no such thing as being ready for a knuckleball pitch.
Manager Clint Hurdle offered his advice for facing a knuckleball pitcher: “See it high, let it fly. If it’s low, let it go. Just try to square it up and backspin it and hit it to the big part of the field.”
Some other news and notes…
- Karstens has a 0.67 ERA this month. That is not a typo. Only Cliff Lee (0.27) has a better such mark. Since May 7, Karstens has posted the fourth-lowest ERA in the Majors — 1.75.
- The Pirates are now 7-2 playing in front of 30,000+ at PNC Park this season. That seventh win was on Friday, of course, when the Pirates sold 39,330 tickets. That marked the fifth sellout of the season, the third largest crowd all-time and the second largest crowd in 2011.
- Don’t forget that June 30 is the last day you have to cast your All-Star ballots at MLB.com. Rosters will be announced on July 3.
- After collecting his 21st save (in 21 opportunities, nonetheless) last night, Joel Hanrahan sits behind only two NL closers — Huston Street, who has saved 23 games, and Brian Wilson, who has 22 saves. Hanrahan has a legitimate chance of challenging Mike Williams’ franchise record for saves before the All-Star break. Williams had 25 before the break in 2002 and again in 2003.
- Still no David Ortiz in the lineup for the Red Sox, as manager Terry Francona is hesitant to put Ortiz at first and move Adrian Gonzalez to right field. Francona has considered the possibility, but to this point hasn’t pulled the trigger on it. But you can’t complain about having Ortiz to call on late as a pinch hitter, as Boston did on Friday. Ortiz stepped to plate last night having gone deep 366 times in his career. The five Pirates bench players last night have combined for 67 home runs in their careers. Yeah, a little discrepency there.
- Brad Lincoln is expected to be called up to start next weekend in Washington (the Pirates have a doubleheader on July 2), but Lincoln didn’t fare all that well in his start for Indianapolis on Friday. In five innings, Lincoln was charged with seven hits and five earned runs. He walked one, struck out six and threw 56 of 92 pitches for strikes.
PIRATES: J. Tabata (LF), C. d’Arnaud (3B), G. Jones (RF), A. McCutchen (CF), N. Walker (2B), L. Overbay (1B), R. Cedeno (SS), M. McKenry (C), J. Karstens (RHP)
RED SOX: J. Ellsbury (CF), D. Pedroia (2B), A. Gonzalez (1B), K. Youkilis (3B), J.D. Drew (RF), J. Saltalamacchia (C), J. Reddick (LF) M. Scutaro (SS), T. Wakefield (RHP)
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB