Tim Wakefield’s (5-6) knuckleball has always baffled the New York Yankees (23-29) lineup, but this season the Bronx Bombers have dialed in on the fluttering pitch. Wakefield has a 10.93 ERA and three losses in three starts against the Yankees.
Wakefield who could not find the plate all game suffered the shortest outing of any Boston Red Sox pitcher lasting 3 2/3 innings, on five hits, eight earned runs, six walks, two strikeouts, and a homerun given up.
Chien-Ming Wang (4-4) grabbed the first win for the Yankees in this three game set going 5 2/3 innings, on 10 hits, three earned runs, two walks, and one strikeout.
With Wakefield’s struggles came the first time since April 23-24 against the Toronto Blue Jays when the Sox lost back-to-back games this season. The Sox currently stand on top of the American League East with a 36-17 record and 12.5 game lead over the Yankees and a 10.0 game lead over second place Baltimore.
The knuckleballer’s first inning was of the 1-2-3 fashion but the second was a totally different story. Robinson Cano started the Wakefield bashing with a two-run homerun and Johnny Damon drew a bases loaded walk to make it 3-0.
Julio Lugo groudned into a fielder’s choice picking up an RBI and David Ortiz singled home a run later in the inning scratching together two runs off of Wang to inch closer to a 3-2 score.
The Sox tied the game in the next frame, but the Yankees unleashed a six run inning that put the game out of reach.
Wakefield threw a wild pitch scoring Cano which was followed by an RBI single from Melky Cabrera and then a passed ball that got by Doug Mirabelli scoring another run that made it evident that the knuckleball and Wakefield were clearly innefective on this night. If Wakefield could find the plate then Mirabelli could not find the ball. It was just one of those nights.
Jorge Posada hit a three-run RBI double to deep center off of Kyle Snyder pushing the score to 9-3. All of three runners on Posada’s double were credited to Wakefield.
Boston pushed across two more runs in the bottom of the ninth but it was without a doubt the Yankees night in the first game of the three game series ending the game at 9-5.
Drama stirred in the ninth as Kevin Youkilis was hit by a Scott Proctor offering in the shoulder. The ball appeared to be moving towards Youkilis’ head instead hitting him in the shoulder. The benches cleared but Posada grabbed Youkilis assuring him that there was no intention in the pitch delivered by Proctor.
Not only did the Sox lose big, but they may have lost Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew in the process. Lowell sufferred a left hand contusion and Drew had a right hamstring injury. Both players left the game early.