Tim Wakefield pitched like he had something to prove on Sunday. The knuckleballer seemed like a man with a chip on his shoulder from the moment he took the mound.
Coming into Sunday's game, Wakefield was the only starter who hadn't yet been victorious, and his loss to Texas had been a crushing defeat. He'd allowed seven runs in just 3 2/3 innings in that April 4 game. And he was clearly determined to make up for it against the Orioles.
Time after time, through six effective innings, Wakefield pitched his way out of jams, leaving Baltimore baserunners stranded, and often in scoring position. Boston's longest serving pitcher surrendered just one run, and it was unearned.
The end result; Wakefield's dominance helped the Red Sox earn their forth straight victory to start this season at 5-1.
And there was more good news. Keith Foulke got three outs in a row in the eighth, leading both he and Terry Francona to say it was the best performance he'd given in quite some time. If Foulke has confidence issues about being a closer, he may be an ideal - if not overpriced - set up man. At least for a while. One would like to believe that Foulke will regain the confidence that he had in 2004, and in the four previous seasons. During that span he was one of the most dominant closers in baseball with the White Sox and A's. Prior to last year, Foulke had an impressive 2.49 ERA over those previous five seasons, while compiling 185 saves. One encouraging sign on Sunday was that his fastball registered 88 mph for the first time in quite some time.
So heading into Tuesday's home opener, there are encouraging signs for the 2006 edition of the Boston Red Sox. Not the least of which is that 25-year-old Jonathan Papelbon earned his third save in three opportunities. And with that, hope springs eternal, and the Nation does rejoice.
Copyright © 2006 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.