By Maureen Mullen
DETROIT -- Tim Wakefield, along with Alfredo Aceves, is giving manager Terry Francona some interesting decisions.
Making his second consecutive start while John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka are on the disabled list, Wakefield went seven strong innings against the Tigers Friday night, giving up just two runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts.
"He made the adjustments, Francona said. We scored the five runs in the third and he became a lot more economical. He got fly balls and pop-ups. He kind of took the sting out. Eighty-three pitches, that's pretty good. We wanted to hold him around 85 if we could.
I was fighting my mechanics in the first couple of innings, Wakefield said. But was able to make some adjustments after the second inning and was able to cruise through into the seventh.
Wakefield has cruised through his last two starts, going 2-0. In a combined 13 23 innings, giving up three runs on nine hits with two walks, five strikeouts and a home run. In the two starts he has posted a cumulative 1.98 ERA.
In their four starts since Lackey and Matsuzaka have been on the DL, Wakefield and Aceves are a combined 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA. They would have been 4-0 if not for a Matt Albers eighth-inning meltdown May 21.
We're talking about that the four starts theyve given us, Francona said. They haven't been able to go nine innings, but they've been really solid starts and gives your club a huge lift.
"I don't think its unusual, Wakefield said. I think it's a blessing for us that its happened so far and hopefully we can continue to do so.
Wakefield has also made nine relief appearances this season. But, hed rather be in the rotation.
Yeah, I'd rather be a starter, he said. I'm getting an opportunity to fill in and do the best I can.
It is the 195th win of Wakefields 19-season career, 181st with the Sox. He is the major leagues active leader in wins, and is 11 wins behind Roger Clemens and Cy Young, who both have 192, the most wins of any Sox pitcher all-time.
Those numbers are important to him, and they only way he can reach them will be to stay in the rotation.
Lackey is scheduled to make a rehab start Tuesday in Pawtucket, with an eye toward being activated June 5. At that time barring any other injuries or anything unforeseen to the pitching staff Francona will have to decide whether to send Aceves of Wakefield back to the bullpen. It would seem to make more sense to send Aceves , who can pitch multiple innings in relief, while Wakefields knuckleball would seem to play better in the rotation. It would give him a better chance to add more wins to his totals.
Wakefield turns 45 in August. With the way hes been pitching, theres no reason he cant continue for a few more seasons.
"Yeah, I'm not doubting that, he said. I feel great physically. See what happens."
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen