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Wakefield tabbed for Game 110/21/2004 5:59 PM ET
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
BOSTON -- There's a nice symmetry to the fact that the first World Series game at Fenway Park in 18 years will be pitched by the man who has been on the roster longer than any other member of the Red Sox.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona announced Thursday that veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield -- who has been with the team since 1995 -- will get the ball in Saturday night's Game 1 against the winner of NLCS Game 7 between the Cardinals and Astros.
It was with that in mind that Francona didn't bring Wakefield out of the bullpen during Wednesday night's 10-3 victory over the Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS.
"[Dave Wallace] and I had things pretty well mapped out, how we wanted to handle things yesterday," said Francona. "Once we stayed away from Wake, he was the Game 1 starter."
Curt Schilling will trudge his ailing right ankle -- suture treatment and all -- to the mound for Sunday's Game 2, something that will enable him to avoid hitting or running the bases in the National League park.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez, who made a 20-pitch cameo out of the bullpen in Game 7 against the Yankees, will pitch Game 3 in the National League park on Tuesday night.
And Derek Lowe, who opened the postseason in the bullpen, has officially earned back his spot after making two strong starts in the ALCS. Lowe will go in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Francona liked the idea of giving Martinez, who has logged his most innings (236 including postseason) since 1998, some extra rest.
Moving Lowe back into the rotation means that Bronson Arroyo will work exclusively out of the bullpen, where he was effective in Boston's pivotal victories in Game 5 and 6 against the Yankees.
On just two days' of rest, Lowe was brilliant in Game 7, firing six innings of one-hit ball.
"It's kind of easy," said Francona. "Derek threw the ball so well and so efficiently, and Bronson bounced back so well out of the bullpen. He was so effective. It's not the idea that he can't start, because he's a good starter. But he may give our bullpen just a huge, extra right-handed arm that might get us over the edge."
Thanks to logistics, Wakefield has yet to make a start in these playoffs despite being in the original rotation. He was originally slated to pitch Game 4 of the Division Series against Anaheim, but that plan was scrapped when the Sox swept the series.
Wakefield also was scheduled to start Game 4 against the Yankees. But with the Boston pitching staff getting battered in Game 3, Wakefield essentially sacrificed his start by offering up his services in the bullpen.
It is in large part because of that classy move that Francona was thrilled to get Wakefield the ball for the World Series opener.
"You go back to Game 3 after that fiasco and I said, 'If we win tomorrow, don't forget about Tim Wakefield and what he did today to pitch those innings and save our bullpen.' Not only did he do that, but he came back in that extra-inning game and threw three [shutout] innings," said Francona. "He had a big, big hand in us winning this series. To start Game 1, I think he's very excited and I'm excited for him. I think he'll do fine."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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