Despite a five-game losing streak, the Boston Red Sox are heading back to the postseason for the third straight year. Whether they’ll get any contributions from Tim Wakefield(notes) in October remains to be seen.
The 42-year-old knuckleballer could be making the final start of his career as he tries to prevent Boston from matching its longest slide of the season Wednesday, while Roy Halladay(notes) will attempt to pitch the Toronto Blue Jays to a three-game sweep at Fenway Park in what may be his last outing with his only major league team.
With a chance to secure the AL wild card on Tuesday night, the Red Sox (91-66) rallied for five runs in the eighth, but lost 8-7. The defeat was the club’s fifth straight - its longest since a season-worst six-game skid from Aug. 4-9 - but the team still clinched its postseason spot later in the evening when Texas lost 5-2 to the Los Angeles Angels.
“Hell, yeah,” Ortiz said. “We worked our way to be in this situation. Even not winning this game tonight, you move into the playoffs so there’s a celebration.”
It’s much less clear what Wakefield (11-4, 4.33 ERA) will be able to give them, as the right-hander has made just three starts since the All-Star break due to back problems. He’ll likely need surgery in the offseason, leaving his future in doubt.
He walked seven in five innings in his most recent appearance, a 12-9 loss to Kansas City on Sept. 21 in which Wakefield—7-0 at Fenway this year—did not get a decision.
This will be the sixth time that Wakefield has squared off against Halladay, and there have been some surprising results. Boston is 4-1 in those matchups, with Halladay going 1-3 with a 7.63 ERA.
In his career, the Toronto ace is 13-14 with a 4.43 ERA against Boston - the only AL opponent against which he has a losing record. He has lost five of his last six starts at Fenway Park despite a 3.71 ERA in those games.
Halladay (16-10, 2.90) was the subject of intense trade rumors around the July 31 deadline, and although he has one year left on his contract, those talks could reignite in the offseason with the Blue Jays trying to rebuild.
In his final home start of the season, Halladay pitched a seven-hitter in a 5-0 win over Seattle on Friday, striking out nine without a walk and leaving the field to a standing ovation.
“Those are things you take with you, that you’re going to tell your kids about,” Halladay said. “Regardless of what happens this winter, it means a lot to me.”
Halladay’s shutout started what’s now a season-best five-game winning streak for the Blue Jays (74-84) as they finish a disappointing season in strong fashion. They’ve won eight of nine overall, averaging 6.7 runs in those games.
The Blue Jays had lost eight straight at Fenway before this series, but they’ll have a chance to earn their first sweep of at least three games in Boston since June 22-24, 2001.