Wakefield struggles in short outing

July, 16, 2010
7/16/10
12:11
AM ET
BOSTON -- Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield could not find his groove Thursday night at Fenway Park, and as a result, the Texas Rangers took advantage on their way to a 7-2 win.

Ten of the 15 batters Wakefield faced (66.7 percent) swung at the first pitch. The MLB average is 25.6; the highest percentage in Wakefield’s starts was 41.7 entering Thursday night.

In fact, Texas put eight of its 10 swings against Wakefield in play, four of which produced an RBI. When Red Sox manager Terry Francona came out to get the knuckleballer after he faced only three batters in the third inning, Wakefield had allowed seven runs (six earned) on eight hits with no walks and two strikeouts.

“Just one of those night,” said Wakefield. “They were very aggressive. They were swinging early, and obviously I didn’t have the depth or movement on my pitches that I needed to get them out.”

The Rangers sent their entire order to the plate in the first inning and scored six runs. In the top of the second, Wakefield retired the side in order.

“First couple hitters, it looked like the ball was in the zone and had a lot of movement,” Francona said. “They were obviously looking to swing early. Normally for us, Wake gets first-pitch outs or first-pitch contact, but they strung together a bunch of hits. That’s kind of a rarity when you see him attack the zone like that, but he just gave up so many hits.”

In the third inning, however, it was clear to Francona his starter did not have his best stuff.

“He went out in the second, had a five-pitch inning. Then he came back in the third and it looked like it was going to be another tough inning, so I had to go get him,” Francona said.

It was Wakefield’s shortest start since allowing seven runs over 1 2/3 innings on Sept. 6, 2008 at Texas.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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