Bobby Valentine wasn’t the only noteworthy guest for David Ortiz’s charity golf tournament in the Dominican Republic. Tim Wakefield was also in attendance for the event and told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that he has a “strong desire to pitch one more year for the Red Sox.”
Wakefield, who turned 45 in August, has been with Boston since 1995. He went 7-8 with a 5.12 ERA and 93/47 K/BB ratio over 154 2/3 innings this season. Though it took him nine tries, he finally got his 200th career win while the Red Sox were in the middle of their September collapse.
Wakefield has an ugly 5.22 ERA over the past two seasons, so it’s hard to imagine the Red Sox would give him a rotation spot, but they could bring him back as a long man out of the bullpen. While his agent Barry Meister said last month that it would be a “shame” if the veteran knuckleballer didn’t finish his career with Boston, Wakefield acknowledged yesterday that a move to the National League could be a possibility.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.