10/14/2003 4:59 PM ET
Notes: Riding the Wake
BOSTON -- How far has Tim Wakefield's stock risen in this American League
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
Here was a question presented to Red Sox manager Grady Little in Tuesday's
pregame press conference.
"Given Wakefield's effectiveness, have you given any thought to starting him
in Game 7 in place of Pedro (Martinez)?" the journalist asked.
"No," Little said in a dry tone that brought laughter throughout the room.
Despite his less than spectacular start in Game 3, Martinez is, without a
doubt, still the ace of the Red Sox.
So if there is a Game 7, he will take the ball on four days of rest. However,
Wakefield will certainly be lurking in the pen if the need arises.
In fact, Little didn't rule out the veteran knuckleballer providing some
relief in Wednesday's Game 6, though he'd be working on just one day of
"This would depend completely on how he feels," Little said. "This guy wears
his spikes in the dugout every single day and has his glove nearby, so that
will just depend on how he feels from day-to-day. But I'm sure he's out of
the picture totally today. But tomorrow's another day."
Wakefield has, without question, been Boston's MVP of this series thus far.
He won his two starts, allowing the Sox to be even after four games.
He produced a top-shelf performance in Game 4, going seven innings and
allowing one run while registering eight strikeouts in a 3-2 win.
The game was so fresh in everyone's mind that when Game 6 starter John
Burkett arrived at his press conference, he quipped, "I've been working on
my knuckleball. That's why I'm a little late."
The 38-year-old Burkett was even asked if he has contemplated breaking out a
knuckleball any time soon.
"I threw it in high school but I think it would be kind of a gamble to bring
back a pitch that I threw 20 years ago," Burkett said. "I'll go with what
got me here so far. (Wakefield's) been outstanding and I think a lot of
people don't respect knuckleball guys, and you're seeing someone step up and
it's a good feeling to see Tim Wakefield do that."
No-brainer: Though Little started Damian Jackson at
second base in Derek Lowe's first two starts of this postseason, as well as
most of his starts late in the regular season, he didn't think it was a
particularly taxing decision to change that up in Game 5.
Walker, who set a team record with his fifth homer of this postseason in
Game 4, batted second and played second base against New York starter David Wells.
"He's the hottest hitter we've got in these playoffs," Little said.
Little told Jackson about the decision following Game 4, not that it needed
"You'd have to be a blind man not to understand what we're doing here this
evening," said Little.
Nomar's mysterious slump: Nomar Garciaparra came in to Game 5 mired
in the most prolonged slump of his career. In a span of 131 at-bats -- dating
back to Sept. 1 -- Garciaparra is hitting .183 with five homers and 16 RBIs.
In 37 postseason at-bats, he's hitting .216 and has one extra-base hit and no
Little insisted that there is nothing physically wrong with his star
"I feel like every time he goes to the plate, there's a chance the ball is
going to leave the park," said Little. "I feel like every time I write
Nomar's name in the lineup, he's going to get four or five hits that day."
Running on full: Three times in this series, the Red Sox have been
victimized by a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play. They've all been on
Just because it hasn't been particularly effective in this series, Little
has no plans to stop sending his runners on full counts.
"We've had some discussion about that, even this morning," said Little. "But
in our final conclusion, we've got a club that scored nearly a thousand
runs. And we weren't able to do that by sitting around and waiting for
something to happen. It has bitten us right in the tail about three times
during this series.
"Believe it or not, it's kind of a mind game too with some hitters. We have
some hitters on this ballclub who are offended if we're not going on three-and-two. That's showing to them that I don't have confidence in them. There you
go. We've taken two close pitches and yesterday we swung right through a
pitch with a guy who led the league in hitting (Bill Mueller). Those things
happen, but we're not going to shut it down because of that. We know what
got us where we are."
Seats stay black: It has been a custom of the Red Sox for the last
several years not to sell roughly 415 seats for day games in the section in
dead center field. This is to protect the hitting background.
Game 5 presented a challenge. When Game 4 -- scheduled as a night game -- was
postponed a day, those tickets were to be used for Game 5, which ended up
being an afternoon game.
Red Sox officials, Yankee officials and Major League Baseball officials
discussed the matter and came to the conclusion to cover the seats up. The
fans who had tickets for that section were able to sit in different parts of
the ballpark, ranging from roof box seats, 406 club seats, and other areas.
Fans were given the option of getting a full refund. A Red Sox spokesman
said that, as of the first pitch, the team hadn't gotten one request for a
Ian Browne is a reporter
for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League
Baseball or its clubs.