Sunday, July 24, 2011

Red Sox 12, Mariners 8: Professor Wakefield eclipses freshman Pineda in two-way tempest

So far as Sunday afternoon’s pitching matchup at Fenway Park would indicate, the Boston Red Sox are only in half-concurrence with their vocal supporters, the Dropkick Murphys.

They don’t predict the future, just as the Murphys claim in the tune “State of Massachusetts.” However, they ought to care about the past, especially when a specimen of their past is equally valuable in their present.

In the midst of pulling to within one win of his 200th as a Major Leaguer, seasoned knuckleballer Tim Wakefield charged up his 2,000th strikeout in a Red Sox uniform. After falling short on his first two challengers in the sixth inning (Miguel Olivo popped out and Justin Smoak grounded, respectively, with two strikes), Wakefield hit the milestone as Mike Carp whiffed at an 0-2 pitch.

All the while, the Boston bat rack dropped the visiting Seattle Mariners and promising rookie hurler Michael Pineda to the ever-deepening nadir of their respective Major League lives.

Pineda lasted a season-low 4.1 innings with five runs and season-high eight hits on his tab as the Sox stamped a 12-8 triumph, Seattle’s 15th consecutive loss.

Wakefield ultimately lasted a full two innings longer than Pineda, yielding to Alfredo Aceves in the seventh, when three straight one-out singles and a first-pitch grand slam by Brendan Ryan sawed an 11-3 Red Sox lead in half to 11-7.

Because as so many of Wakefield’s innumerable triumphant days have been, Sunday was not without its stains. The Mariners amassed three hits in the top of the first and nabbed an initial 2-0 lead courtesy of Olivo’s two-run homer.

But the Sox batted around in the home half as seven of Pineda’s first nine challengers lobbed the ball to the outfield or beyond for five runs and six hits.

After Adrian Gonzalez sent Jacoby Ellsbury (leadoff double) home on a rolling single to right-center, Kevin Youkilis carried him home and usurped the lead with his own blast to the top row of the Monster seats.

Four plays later, with David Ortiz and Carl Crawford and scoring position, Jarrod Saltalamacchia dropped a two-out, two-run single to right field, augmenting the early edge to 5-2.

After getting through their opponents respective offensive sugar rushes in the first inning, Wakefield and Pineda went on momentarily identical sequences to stop the bleeding on the scoreboard. They each chucked a swift 1-2-3 second stanza, left a man stranded in their respective halves of the third and then had another 1-2-3 breeze through the fourth.

The fifth inning, however, evoked memories of the first as each starter blinked to roughly the same degree as before. In the top half, the Mariners thawed back out well enough to land a pair of hits and another run courtesy of Ryan’s RBI double that scored Franklin Guttierez, reducing the deficit to 5-3.

In the bottom half, though, a single by Gonzalez and a walk to Youkilis ended Pineda’s day.

In a matter of four pitches, Seattle reliever Aaron Laffey let both of his inherited runners complete the journey home. Ortiz nudged Gonzalez and Youkilis to scoring position on a first-pitch infield single and Crawford zipped a 1-1 pitch past third baseman Adam Kennedy for a two-run single.

Ortiz scored when Josh Reddick stepped up and catapulted a double off the Wall and Saltalamacchia benched Laffey with a two-run single to right. That had the Sox pulling ahead, 10-3, and Mariners manager Eric Wedge pulling out Laffey in favor of Jamey Wright.

Wright and Josh Lueke both yielded an additional run. Gonzalez sent Dustin Pedroia home from second in the sixth and Reddick constituted Boston’s 12th run on a base hit by Ellsbury. Aceves confined the Ms to three hits and one run whilst polishing off the last eight outs.