Terry Francona announced yesterday that Tim Wakefield will not be on the Red Sox’s roster for the ALDS, but added that the team may decide to use him in the ALCS or World Series if they get past the Angels:
And he’s on board with that, which we appreciate a lot. He’s not going to be in the first round, but that doesn’t mean that something couldn’t happen. We all understand where he’s at. It’s been very difficult for him physically. But we didn’t want to just shut him down either, because he could still play a role. As crazy as this game is, we just want to keep our options open.
Wakefield has been left off the roster for playoff series before, but pitched in each of the Red Sox’s last eight trips to the postseason dating all the way back to 1995. He was also an All-Star this season after going 11-3 with a 4.31 ERA in the first half. However, the 43-year-old knuckleballer spent much of the second half on the disabled list with nerve problems in his back and went just 1-3 with a 6.00 ERA down the stretch after rejoining the rotation.
Incidentally, while Wakefield has been a playoff fixture for the Red Sox over the past 15 years he hasn’t actually performed very well in the postseason. He’s just 3-7 with an 8.00 ERA in 54 playoff innings spread over nine starts and seven relief appearances for Boston.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.