Age doesn't matter. Injuries don't matter. For that matter, the wind doesn't matter.
Because as long as Tim Wakefield is wearing a Boston Red Sox jersey, he is producing for the Red Sox. Not just producing, but being valuable for the Red Sox. He's shown it many times over his career, but his 2009 highlight turned the Red Sox from an early-season basement dweller to a top-of-the-pack contender.
On April 15, the Red Sox sat at just 2-6. It wasn't the way the organization -- nor the fans -- thought the Red Sox would kick off the year. Considering we do reside in Red Sox Nation, there were some already seeking out the best bridges. But Tim Wakefield, being the veteran that he is, put the team on his back and gave Sox fans something to root for.
It was a rare mid-week day game against the Oakland Athletics on the West Coast. With just that said, it was sort of weird all ready. And with Wakefield on the mound, anything is possible.
This time, anything was everything and everything was the best.
Sometimes Wakefield's knuckleball is described as the following: dancing, fluttering, floating. Perhaps if you combine all three adjectives you get what he was doing on this fine day. Above all, it was confounding. The A's didn't know what they were seeing and it was evident:
Wake had a no-hitter through seven innings.
It was one of those games that through six innings, as a hitter, you just throw in the towel and say, "we can't beat him."
The Red Sox were in position to win with a 2-0 lead through seven, but the real question was whether or not Wakefield could hold on to the no-no.
The Sox supported their ageless knuckleballer with six runs in the top of the eighth. The long wait, however, may have just done Wake in: Kurt Suzuki hit a single to left to break up the no-hit bid.
The no-no was out of the question, but it didn't mean he couldn't put up a great performance once the game was over. Wakefield gave up one run in the eighth and another in the ninth, but the runs were no indication of what he had done that game.
Boston won, 8-2, behind a complete-game effort from Mr. Wakefield. It broke a three-game losing streak, but more importantly it started an 11-game winning streak. By the end of the streak, the Sox were 13-6 and leading the American League East.
Here's what editor Allen Chace had to say in the game recap:
But the credit for today has to go to Tim. I have no doubt that he watched last night's game and stepped out onto the field today expecting himself to go at least 8. Not that most starters aren't like this, but that's the kind of guy Wakefield has always been in Boston. He's a team guy (cliche, yeah, so the f. what), and today his team needed him to go deep into the game and keep the A's from scoring. I'd say he was pretty successful in that, and it's a great note on which to close out the road trip.
Wakefield won two games in that 11-game stretch, but should have won three. In the 11th victory, Wakefield went seven innings and allowed just one hit and no runs. The Sox eventually won, obviously, thanks to scoring three runs in the ninth of a scoreless game. Any other day, Wakefield would have earned the win and the 3-0 mark in the 11-game stretch.
Age, injuries and weather -- Wakefield battled through it to start the Sox on their best winning streak of the season and turn the ship around.