History will have to wait.
Tim Wakefield pitched extremely well in his first crack at career win No. 200, but was outdueled by Chicago's Gavin Floyd in a 3-1 loss to the White Sox on Friday.
The Red Sox knuckleballer allowed just three hits in seven innings, but the White Sox made two of them count, turning a leadoff bunt single in the sixth into one run and seeing A.J. Pierzynski's two-run homer in the seventh snap a 1-1 tie.
With a little run support, it would have been time for a celebration. Alas, Floyd was just a tiny bit better.
"Thought he was tremendous," manager Terry Francona said. "On a normal night, we're bragging about Wake and talking about his 200th win. Their guy was so good. Their bullpen, their starter, they shut us down completely. He got a pitch up to Pierzynski, it leaves the ballpark and that's the difference in the ballgame."
Wakefield said that the pursuit of the milestone was not a distraction. That was evident early on when he was pulling all sorts of tricks with the knuckleball.
"I thought about it a little before the game but once I got done with the warm-ups and into the game I was just trying to win for us, not for me personally," Wakefield said.
Chicago didn't get its first hit until an Adam Dunn single two outs into the fourth. It took a bunt single, a sacrifice bunt, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly for the White Sox to tie it 1-1 in the sixth. The Pierzynski blast, which followed one of Wakefield’s two walks, was one of the only balls hit with authority all night.
Aside from that, the knuckleball was just about at its best.
"It was almost like Bugs Bunny," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, referencing the cartoon classic that saw some pretty wacky things happen on a few pitches from the rabbit.
In the real world, the three late runs by Chicago did nothing to tarnish Wakefield's effort, but they did keep alive one trend which has hurt him this season. His ERA in the sixth inning is now 6.94, and in the seventh it is 7.56.
If there's a silver lining, it lies in the fact that Wakefield figures to get a chance at reaching the milestone at home. With his 176th career loss still rather fresh, it was hard to get too jazzed up over that, but Wakefield was able to start looking ahead.
"I'm excited about it," he said. "I don't like to talk about personal numbers. I'm excited for my next start, help us win and get into the postseason."
That's getting a bit ahead of things, but one cannot blame Wakefield for dreaming big. He remains on the verge of history.
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