Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1
TORONTO (AP)—A dome does wonders for Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball.
“I’ve always loved pitching here,” Wakefield said. “The mound is probably the best mound in the American League, and pitching inside is always a big plus for me. The ball moves a little bit more inside versus outside, where you’ve got a lot of weather conditions that can hinder something.”
Red Sox catcher Doug Mirabelli, who had one passed ball, said it takes extra effort to handle Wakefield’s knuckler indoors.
“It’s a lot more work for me,” he said. “It’s almost to the point where it’s a little bit scary back there because I really don’t know where the ball’s going to go. He’s throwing it hard and it’s moving a lot more than normal.”
Mirabelli and Mike Lowell also homered for the Red Sox, who entered with eight homers in their first 12 games.
Wakefield (2-1) struck out four, walked three and lowered his ERA to 1.35. The 40-year-old right-hander has allowed only three earned runs in 20 innings.
“He was tremendous,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “(The knuckleball) was bouncing all over the place. He was getting some awkward swings.
“Wake has a way of taking a hitter and sort of turning him inside out,” he added. “Other guys get you out. Wake can put into a little bit of a funk.”
“With his style, he can go under the radar,” Francona said. “From my standpoint, he can go under the radar all the way to a bunch of wins.”
Ortiz went 2-for-4 with both hits going to the opposite field, something he admitted struggling with in the past.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “I tried to hit that way before and it never worked.”
Toronto starter Tomo Ohka didn’t allow a hit until Lowell homered to left with two outs in the fifth, his first of the season.
Mirabelli led off the sixth with his second home run, and Ortiz opened the seventh with his fifth.
Mirabelli was at a loss to explain his success in Toronto, where he’s hit five homers in 22 career games.
“I just always liked coming to this stadium,” he said. “There’s just something that feels good to me. When you hit the ball good, it goes. It’s a fun place for me to play.”
Ohka (0-2) allowed four runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings, walked one and struck out three. He bristled at suggestions that he was trying to match Tuesday’s start by fellow Japanese hurler Dice-K.
“I don’t care about Matsuzaka,” he said. “So what?”
Matt Stairs singled off Wakefield in the first, but the knuckleballer responded by retiring 10 straight batters before stumbling in the fourth. With two outs, he loaded the bases with consecutive walks to Frank Thomas, Lyle Overbay and Aaron Hill. After a visit from pitching coach John Farrell, Wakefield escaped by striking out Jason Phillips on four pitches.
“He was jumping a little bit, hurrying to the plate a little too much,” Mirabelli said. “It just seemed like after John talked to him he gathered himself and slowed it down a little bit and the ball started coming out cleaner out of his hand.”
Ortiz appeared to have a single in the fourth when he hit a ball between first and second into short right field. But 2B Hill, playing deep with the shift on, fielded the ball and threw out Ortiz by a step. … The Blue Jays were held to one run for the first time this season.
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