Will fourth time be a charm for Wakefield?
SEATTLE - Tim Wakefield won his 199th career game July 24. He has made three starts since without getting another win.
Wakefield has deserved a better fate. Over those three games, he allowed nine earned runs on 16 hits over 20 2/3 innings. He left his start, against Minnesota on Monday, with a 6-5 lead only to see Alfredo Aceves give up the tying run in the next inning in a game the Sox won.
“The last three games have been one pitch or one batter and who gets the win is a little different,’’ Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Wakefield, who gets the start today against the Mariners in the series finale, would be the 108th pitcher in history to win 200 games. He has the most victories among active pitchers.
Francona said that while he’s pulling for Wakefield to reach his milestone, he’s not going to let it affect how he manages the game.
“You just can’t. It’s not fair to the team,’’ Francona said. “That’s what makes part of what he’s doing so special, you do it in the normal course of events.’’
Picking up the slack Marco Scutaro was crossing a street in Seattle Thursday night to catch “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes’’ when a car approached and he quickened his pace to get out of the way.
That’s when he felt some pain in his lower back. By Friday night, Scutaro told Francona he wouldn’t be able to play.
The same thing happened to Kevin Youkilis, although rebellious monkeys had nothing to do with it. His back bothers him sometimes, and it acted up again this week.
Francona put Jed Lowrie at shortstop in place of Scutaro and started Mike Aviles at third for Youkilis. Lowrie homered, Aviles hit a sacrifice fly and the Sox took a 6-4 win against the Mariners.
“I don’t want Youk’s back to hurt or Scoot’s, but I like when we use our whole team,’’ Francona said. “I think it’s good for in [the clubhouse], too. It breeds confidence. Not just for the guys who played, but other guys know that they’ll be there and we can play good baseball.’’
Aviles was obtained from the Royals July 30. He has been surprised at Francona’s willingness to use his bench.
“I love that. He’s out there to win games and he’ll use all 25 guys if he has to. I think that’s what makes this team win,’’ Aviles said. “That’s a big part of this team, that everybody contributes. You have to come to the park ready to play.
“We have some good ballplayers all around. Everybody knows the starters are all good. But I feel like our bench is pretty good. On any given day, you can get a good game out of our bench. It makes the team that much better. On any given night, anybody is capable of doing something good. That’s a big thing for us and I think that’s going to help us.’’
Scutaro returned last night against Seattle. But Aviles was at third base again as Youkilis was not yet ready to play.
“He’s still sore,’’ Francona said.
Lowrie started the season as a reserve, worked his way into a starting spot and is now coming off the bench after a stint on the disabled list. He realizes the value of depth.
“Sometimes [Francona] doesn’t have a choice. But when he does put us in there, he expects us to perform. This is the Red Sox, we’re expected to win,’’ Lowrie said. “Even if you’re not starting every day, you’re expected to be a winning player.
“I think it brings everybody closer and everybody feels a part of the team, knowing that we’re all going in the same direction.’’
Drew feeling better J.D. Drew was on the field for early batting practice and took some aggressive swings to test his sore left shoulder.
“I’m building my endurance up,’’ said Drew, who has been on the disabled list since July 20. “It’s about what we expected. There’s some soreness and I think I’ll deal with that the rest of the year. The strength gains we made helps. Now I have to battle out of some bad habits.’’
The Sox will skip batting practice on the field today. There won’t be any before Tuesday’s doubleheader against Tampa Bay or Wednesday’s day game. Drew will be restricted to swinging in the cage until Friday.
Drew said postseason surgery was a possibility because he has rotator cuff damage. But for now, he wants to get the joint stable and try to return. There has yet to be any discussion about when he would start a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
“It felt a little better today than it felt yesterday,’’ he said. “I think one day it’ll just be there.’’
Caught in the draft The deadline for signing draft picks is tomorrow at midnight. The Sox have plenty of work to do, having closed deals with only 11 of their first 23 picks.
That is not unusual, as serious negotiations often do not take place until the hours leading up to the deadline. The Sox did sign 29th-round pick Matt Spalding for $275,000, a contract normally accorded a third-round pick.
The high school righthander passed on a scholarship to Western Kentucky.
Legendary meeting Francona said it was “a treat’’ to spend time with Bill Russell before the game on Friday. The Celtics legend, who lives in the Seattle area, talked about basketball with Francona. “It was fun,’’ said Francona, a high school hoopster of some renown in Western Pennsylvania. “He kept getting up to leave and I said, ‘No, you can stay. We’ve got time.’ ’’ . . . Seattle placed first baseman Justin Smoak on the disabled list, a day after a bad-hop grounder off the bat of Jarrod Saltalamacchia broke his nose. Wily Mo Pena was called up from Triple A Tacoma to replace him. Pena batted fifth and was the DH last night. Pena represents possibly the worst transaction of the Theo Epstein Era. He was acquired March 20, 2006, for righthander Bronson Arroyo. Pena hit .271 with 16 home runs over parts of two seasons before being traded to the Nationals in 2007. Arroyo has since gone 77-69 with a 4.13 ERA for the Reds. Pena has been with five organizations since leaving Boston.