“I’m not facing him as a hitter, so it’s kind of cool,” the 41-year-old Wakefield said. “I’m actually facing their hitters and they have a pretty good lineup over there.”
“I’ve faced Wakefield enough times when I was with the Yankees,” Johnson said. “I’ve been on the other side of these. I guess what goes around comes around.”
Wakefield relied on his knuckler, which travels about 65-70 mph. He mixed in some curveballs, one as slow as 55 mph—Johnson throws some pitches almost 40 mph faster than that.
“Two guys with some great statistics going at it, totally different game, with good numbers,” Crisp said. “It’s a classic.”
Not since Sept. 26, 1965, when Satchel Paige made a one-game comeback after a 12-year absence from the majors, had two pitchers of the combined age of Wakefield and Johnson started against each other in a Red Sox game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Elias said it also was a match of starters at Fenway with the oldest combined age—86 years, 252 days.
Paige, at 59 years, 81 days, allowed just one hit in three shutout innings. Bill Monbouquette, at 29 years, 45 days, pitched a complete game for a 5-2 win over the host Kansas City Athletics. They were a combined 88 years, 126 days old.
Johnson was out of the game by the time Kevin Cash hit a three-run homer in the eighth off Juan Cruz. It was Cash’s first homer since June 21, 2005, with Tampa Bay—against Johnson when he was with the New York Yankees.
Wednesday’s starters got some of their best results in more than a month.
Wakefield (5-5) was 1-4 in his previous eight starts. Johnson (4-6) had his best outing in five starts, but has lost all of them.
Wakefield baffled the Diamondbacks with his knuckleball and allowed two of Arizona’s three hits in seven innings.
“It was tough,” Chris Young said. “It’s a tough pitch to hit. Guys struggle with it because you don’t really know how to approach it.”
Wakefield struck out six, walked one and has allowed three runs or fewer in at least seven innings in six straight starts.
“I like the pitcher’s duel, but I’d rather have a lot of runs on the board,” he said, “especially when you face a guy like Randy that can throw up a lot of zeros.”
Johnson went six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
“Nothing really to be happy about,” he said. “A loss is a loss. Basically, all the games I’ve pitched the last month have been kind of a blur.”
Moss, playing right field while lefty J.D. Drew rested against lefty Johnson, drove in two runs without getting a hit.
The Red Sox put runners at second and third with no outs in the second on a single by Mike Lowell and a double by Crisp. With one out, Moss had an RBI grounder.
Johnson struck out the leadoff batter in the sixth, then loaded the bases on a single by Lowell, a double by Crisp and the first intentional walk of Cash’s career. Moss came through again with a long sacrifice fly.
Cash’s eighth career homer followed a walk to Lowell and another double by Crisp.
“It’s a lot better to play 5-0 than 2-0,” Boston manager Terry Francona said, “especially the way the ninth inning unfolded.”
Johnson and Wakefield have combined for 6,551 strikeouts in 6,660 1-3 innings. … It was the first major league matchup of over-40 starters since 40-year-old Curt Schilling faced 45-year-old Roger Clemens last Sept. 16 at Fenway Park. The Yankees won 4-3. … Johnson was 7-1 in his previous 10 starts against Boston. … Arizona radio/television analyst Tom Candiotti, a former major league knuckleballer, threw early batting practice to the Diamondbacks. “I thought he did pretty well,” manager Bob Melvin said.