After surgery, Wakefield has plans for 2010 and beyond

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Tim Wakefield had surgery Wednesday to repair a herniated disk in his back and said afterward that “everything went awesome.”
He’ll likely be cleared to begin normal offseason training in 4-6 weeks and the Red Sox are expected to pick up his perpetual $4 million option for 2010. In fact, the 43-year-old knuckleballer said yesterday that he has plans to pitch beyond next season.
Wakefield is 11 wins short of 200 for his career and 17 wins away from tying Roger Clemens and Cy Young for the Red Sox’s franchise lead with 192 victories. He’s apparently aiming for both marks, which would almost surely involve pitching through at least 2011.
“Past that, I really can’t tell you,” Wakefield said. “I’m not planning on getting to that point and retiring, if that’s the question you’re asking. I still feel like I can contribute. I still feel like I can compete at the highest level, and I’m going to continue to play as long as my body allows me and as long as the Red Sox want me around.”
Health is obviously the biggest key for Wakefield, because before being sidelined by back problems he went 11-3 with a 4.31 ERA in the first half to make his first All-Star team. He’s posted an ERA in the 4.00s in each of the past seven seasons, so while it’s tough for the Red Sox to count on a 43-year-old knuckleballer with a bad back, prior to the injury he’d shown no indication that his days as a solid fourth starter were over.

Video: Justin Turner gives Dodgers early Game 4 lead with two-run double

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
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Clayton Kershaw has looked sharp on the mound and at the plate so far in this must-win NLDS Game 4 at New York’s Citi Field.

After no-hitting the Mets in the first two frames, Kershaw smacked a one-out single to left-center field in the top of third inning. Howie Kendrick followed soon after with a two-out single to left and then Adrian Gonzalez blooped a ball to shallow center that drove in Enrique Hernandez, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base.

That all set up this Justin Turner two-run double down the left field line that put Los Angeles up 3-0

That’s now four doubles this postseason for Turner, which is a Dodgers franchise record for the Division Series. Los Angeles is trying to force a Game 5.

Video: Hector Rondon closes it out, Cubs advance past Cardinals to NLCS

Hector Rondon
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

In the first postseason meeting between the two longtime archrivals, the Chicago Cubs prevailed over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Watch as Cubs closer Hector Rondon whiffs Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty with a nasty 0-2 breaking ball to clinch a Division Series victory and send Wrigley Field into a frenzy (this is actually the first time in franchise history the Cubs have won a playoff series at home) …

Chicago dropped Game 1 but took three straight to finish off St. Louis. Next up is a matchup against either the Dodgers or Mets in the National League Championship Series.

Cardinals miss Martinez even more than Molina

Carlos Martinez

After taking Game 1 of the NLDS in an outstanding performance from John Lackey, the Cardinals dropped three straight to the Cubs by scores of 6-3, 8-6 and 6-4. It’s not difficult at all to imagine a healthy Carlos Martinez swinging one of those games.

Martinez wasn’t the Cardinals’ best starter this year, but he was the one who could shut a team down by himself, with little help from the defense needed. Martinez struck out 184 batters in 179 2/3 innings while going 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA. He left his next-to-last regular season start with a shoulder strain that was going to cost him the entirety of the postseason no matter how far the Cardinals advanced. It was a killer blow for a team whose offense had already been slowed by injuries.

October just came at the wrong time for the Cardinals, what with Martinez down, Yadier Molina nursing a significant thumb injury, Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk far from 100 percent and Adam Wainwright still weeks short of potentially pulling off a Marcus Stroman-like return to the rotation.

It’s Molina absence Thursday and lack of effectiveness otherwise that serve as a popular explanation/excuse for the Cardinals’ loss. And the downgrade from him to Tony Cruz behind the plate was huge, even if Molina is no longer the hitter he was a couple of years back.

Martinez, though, had the potential to even up the NLDS just by doing what he did in the regular season. And had Martinez been in the rotation, the Cardinals wouldn’t have moved up Lackey to start Game 4 on three days’ rest. They’d have been the clear favorites in a Game 5 Jon Lester-Lackey rematch back in St. Louis, though we’ll never know how that might have worked out.