Tim Wakefield

Tim Wakefield is never going to win his 200th game


On the one hand I think round numbers for the sake of round numbers are kind of silly. On the other hand, I like knuckleballers and I really like Tim Wakefield, so it makes me kind of sad to see him get start after start in the pursuit of 200 wins only to fall short each time. Seven straight times, in fact.

Last night’s no decision was particularly hard to take as he had the lead — a three-run lead — when he was yanked after five innings.  Daniel Bard loaded the bases on a HBP, a single and a walk and then, after a couple of strikeouts, walked in two runs in a row. Then Matt Albers came in and let Edwin Encarnacion clear the bases with a double. Bam! The three-run lead is a two-run deficit and, though the game itself was not yet decided, Wakefield’s chance at a win was.

Not that Wakefield cares about that. At least publicly. First he blamed himself for not pitching more than five innings. Then he said:

“If it happens, it happens,” Wakefield said. “If it doesn’t, it doesn’t change what I’ve done. I’d like it to happen. But more importantly, I think, is for us to get into the postseason. … That’s our ultimate goal.”

Team player. But if you root for guys like Wakefield more than you root for the Red Sox — and I’m in that group — it’s cold comfort. And that’s the case even though, yeah, he would have had 200 wins a long time ago if, he you know, pitched better.

Barring a couple of perfect games in the playoffs or something, the legacy of Tim Wakefield has already been written. If he finishes his career with 199 wins instead of 200 it will make absolutely zero practical difference in terms of how he should be analyzed and considered as a major league baseball player.

But I’m human and I’m not ashamed to say, gee, it sure would be nice to see him get that nice round number.

NOTE: As is evidenced in the URL, when I first posted this the headline read “Tim Lincecum,” not “Tim Wakefield.”  It’s worth noting that I took copious amounts of Ny Quill last night and may still be feeling the effects.  FWIW, however, there’s no guarantee that Lincecum will win 200 either.

The Cubs clinch World Series berth with NLCS Game 6 win

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  The Chicago Cubs celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.

The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).

Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.

With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.

Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.

With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:

Video: Willson Contreras blasts first postseason home run off of Kershaw

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22:  Willson Contreras #40 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game six of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 22, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).

Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.