(First, my apologies for the bad pun in the post title)
What a game!
Forty-two year old Tim Wakefield had a no-hitter going into the eighth inning this afternoon when Kurt Suzuki broke through with a single to left field with one out. I may or may not have cussed out Suzuki on Twitter...
Aside from the near no-no, Wake did exactly what the Sox needed him to do, namely, pitching deep into the game to spare the exhausted 'pen, and keeping the score close to give us a chance for the win. Every year you hear the mutinous murmurings about Wakefield being too old to be a major league starter (they were more like impassioned cries this year), and every year he goes about his business, quietly providing his fifteen year team with 10-15 quality starts for $4 million. I'm not sure Red Sox Nation realizes what a bargain this is: Tim Wakefield is the consummate professional, a role model for the younger players and a respected peer for the veterans.
It's all about the team for Wakefield, which is partly why I would have been so excited for him to achieve this no-hitter, a (mostly) personal feat. Wake is practically selfless: from the mop-up duty he volunteered for in Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS, allowing Tito to spare the bullpen; to voluntarily taking himself off Postseason series' rosters in 2007 and 2008, in order to give his spot to someone he felt had a better chance to get it done. Though Wakefield can't help young pitchers with their mechanics, he is an invaluable source of wisdom, demonstrating perseverance and dedication every day. Wakefield is the longest-tenured member of the Boston Red Sox, having joined the team in 1995, and he has contributed in whatever role the team has asked of him: starter, long relief, hell, he was even a closer!
But Wake wouldn't want anyone to describe his achievements and strengths while ignoring the contributions of teammates who made them possible, so here's a list of awesome plays of the day by athletes not named Tim Wakefield:
Youkilis' awesome tag on the bad throw in the second; Jacoby Ellsbury's catches in center all day; Green's ranging play, and especially that spectacular catch in the seventh; the hits by everyone but Pedroia (poor guy)...
Honorable mentions go to: Kottaras taking that foul tip off his you-know-what and continuing to play like a champ; Mike Lowell carrying on an animated conversation with the home plate umpire while being intentionally walked; JD Drew being the most nonchalant baseball player ever to hit a home run/strike out/make a play/exist.
Oh, and for the record, I blame Don Orsillo for the fact that the no-hit bid got broken up. You don't talk about that while it's in progress! EVER. I have long since accepted that my attire, eating habits, GPA, shoe size, etc. have nothing to do with how the Sox play, but I make an exception to my no-superstitions rule when there's a no-hitter in the works. Perhaps Orsillo should do that same.