By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
KANSAS CITY Tim Wakefield will have to wait at least one more start for his 200th career win, and hes blocking out the frustration.
Im not frustrated no, declared Wakefield with his arms folded as he waited for the questions postgame. I felt fine and I just left a couple of balls up. It is what it is. Were trying to win a game. Were not trying to do me any favors. Were trying to win the game as a team.
The 45-year-old has come up empty in five chances at getting the milestone career victory, and has found different ways to fall just a little short each time out on the mound. This time around Wakefield had a solid first five innings and entered the sixth frame holding a 4-1 lead, but the venerable knuckler was also approaching the 90-pitch mark that seems to be his nemesis these days.
Wakefield got a strikeout to start the inning, but lost the movement and dance on his knuckleball quickly before exiting the game still clinging to a one-run lead in the sixth frame. Unfortunately Matt Albers entered the game and the roof completely fell in on Wakefields victory chances and the game for their team, and the eight-run inning keyed a 9-4 Sox loss at Kauffman Stadium.
Wakefield wasnt very talkative after the game ended, but indicated he was consciously fighting off any sense of frustration during the five outings stuck at 199 career victories with the big, round number waiting for him.
The frustration hasnt crept in during the last five starts, said Wakefield. Im just trying to take it like a normal start, and give us quality innings and quality starts. I had a bad sixth inning. I feel like Ive pitched well. Three quality starts out of the five and the other one was a complete game that wasnt a quality start. Tonight was just one bad inning.
Its through no lack of trying for the hurler as hes 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in the five outings searching for win no. 200, and has allowed four earned runs or less in all five starts over the last month.
Instead it was more about falling short at a point when the Sox need victories in their team-on-team battle with the Yankees for first place in the AL East and the hard-charging Tampa Bay Rays that have won eight of their last 10 games while the Sox and Yanks simply tread water.
The Sox are undoubtedly pulling for Wakefield to get his 200 moment, but for now the Wake Watch continues as the longest-tenured member of the Sox continues to search for a break that he can turn into a victory. It doesnt get any easier with a pair of starts likely against the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees next on tap for the knuckleballer.
It was a typical Wake outing: he gave up a couple of runs and we were looking pretty good, said Francona. His pitch count was pretty high and he got some balls up in a hurry. We just didnt stop the bleeding that inning.
The whole idea is to win games, and then things like this are in the natural progression. I think thats what makes it so special. I think wed all like to see him get win no. 200.
Ryan Lavarnway collected his first big league RBI and rapped out a pair of hits while also drawing a walk. The rookie slugger has impressed his manager with the way hes taken a mature approach to the plate in the last two games, and managed to draw walks in each of them.
Hes a good hitter. Because David and Youk arent in there, if he can go out and get us a few hits hell give us a really big lift, said Francona. I really like the way hes commanding the strike zone. If he does that then hell do some damage.
Jacoby Ellsbury will set out Sundays series finale against the Royals due to the fastball that caught him in the small of the back on Friday night. Ellsbury missed Saturdays game with a good, old-fashioned contusion in his back, and Sox manager Terry Francona saw no reason to rush him back.
Well stay away from him tomorrow. Hes pretty sore, but hes moving around okay. Hes trying to rally a little bit, said Francona. I told him he wasnt going to play Saturday or Sunday.
David Ortiz took 20 swings in the batting cage off the tee and 20 swings of soft toss in his first action since suffering bursitis in his right heel, and said after the game that he felt good.
Francona indicated that Ortiz will likely hit again on Sunday, but wont get the protective boot permanently removed until Monday.
He was really pleased, said Francona.