|Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury appears a bit handcuffed by this two-run single by the White Sox’ Paul Konerko in the first. (Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)|
Red Sox losers in this pitched battle
CHICAGO - Nothing is certain for Tim Wakefield at this point in the season, at this point in his career, at this point in the pain. He can barely walk around the clubhouse, with a limp that gets more and less noticeable, based on the day. There is constant discomfort, most obvious when the aging knuckleballer attempts to do anything short of stand and throw. And even that, even pitching, is excruciating for him at times.
Still, Wakefield can throw. He did throw yesterday, surviving a shaky first to record six innings of work against the White Sox, though they all ended in futility in a 5-1 loss that was all about Gavin Floyd’s dominance at U.S. Cellular Field.
“Good enough,’’ Wakefield said, of how he felt. “It’s a grind. But I’m here to go pitch and try to win games for us right now.’’
But it is difficult for anyone to know, including Wakefield, when he will next pitch again, or whether he will pitch again.
“It hurts to walk,’’ he said. “It’s basically managing the pain, getting through it, and being able to pitch.
“I was able to do that after the injection, threw a side, played catch. Everything was tolerable to where I can go out there and compete. Other than the first inning, I tried to keep us in the game as long as possible. Unfortunately, Gavin Floyd pitched a brilliant game today.’’
Asked for his confidence level on being able to go out and pitch next time, Wakefield said, “Right now? Good.
“The first bout, it was more weakness in my leg because I was able to rest it a lot longer than I did this time. The pain is still there. It’s not as bad as it was. It’s not as debilitating as it was before, but it’s tolerable enough where I can go out there and compete.’’
But there are moments when it is clear Wakefield is struggling to move. Like in the sixth, on a ground ball to first base by Chris Getz. That put one thought in Wakefield’s mind: “Oh, God.’’
It was an infield hit, on which Kevin Youkilis rushed over to first but couldn’t beat Getz there. Wakefield ran over as well, having to avoid Youkilis at the last minute. Manager Terry Francona came out with a trainer to ensure that Wakefield was OK, and the pitcher remained out there long enough to get an out, ending the sixth.
“It’s tough seeing him on the ball that Youk got at first base,’’ Nick Green said. “Just to see him run over there, it’s kind of painful to watch. But it’s admirable for him to go out there and pitch, especially pitch as well as he did.’’
But it wasn’t Wakefield getting the pitching accolades by the end of the game. Floyd was busy making that 3-0 first-inning lead stand up, keeping the Red Sox off the bases over the first five innings.
So as Green stepped to the plate, 15 games since his last start, there had been 17 up and 17 down, Floyd having cut a swath through the Sox. He had been, in a word, perfect. But then, two outs into the sixth, Green singled up the middle, marking the first time a Boston batter had reached base.
In the third game of his major league career, Green’s Braves were dominated in Randy Johnson’s perfect game in 2004. “It’s one of those things, once you start thinking about that stuff, it’s hard to overcome,’’ Green said.
The 33,239 in attendance gave Floyd a standing ovation. The single would hardly make a difference in the final tally, but it would in the legend of the day. No, the White Sox wouldn’t have two perfect games in a season. They would, however, deal the Red Sox another loss, their second straight in this series. The Rangers also lost, however, keeping the Red Sox’ lead in the wild-card race at two games.
Other than that single, and a later double by Victor Martinez? There were a whole lot of swings and misses. The Red Sox got their run on a home run by Jason Bay, the left fielder taking the first pitch of the eighth inning out. Not long after that, on a swinging strikeout by Mike Lowell, Floyd would get his 10th K of the day, equaling his career high. Then pinch hitter Casey Kotchman became No. 11, marking the futility and frustration for the Sox, and ending the day for Floyd.
“He had good stuff today,’’ David Ortiz said. “He pitched totally different than what he pitched up in Boston. He was throwing a lot of sliders, good ones. Locating his slider, that’s hard to do. He was doing it well.’’
Too well for the Red Sox, who are now in the position of having to win the final two games of this series for a split. That can easily be attributed, at least yesterday, to one person: Floyd.
“Their guy was just dominant,’’ Francona said. “Slider, cutter, fastball, change, everything. He just kind of carved us up.
“On a day where the time of day [makes it] hard to see, and the way he pitched, he overwhelmed us.’’