On Saturday night, the Red Sox and Cubs played in old-time uniforms, part of a turn-back-the-clock promotion to herald Chicago’s first visit to Fenway in 93 years.

On Sunday night, Tim Wakefield actually did turn back the clock. The 44-year-old hadn’t pitched in a game in 10 days, yet he managed to baffle the Cubs for 62/3 strong innings.

Every time he takes the mound, Wakefield breaks his own record as the oldest player to ever appear in a game for the Red Sox.

It was his first win since September of 2010, a stretch of 14 appearances without a victory.

One hundred-eighty of Wakefield’s 194 career wins have come with the Red Sox. Only Cy Young and Roger Clemens have won more games for Boston.

Two years ago, it seemed Wakefield would knuckle his way past those legendary names. That was before he went 20 months between wins.


“Every win is precious,” Wakefield admitted after the game.

So is Wakefield. With 40 percent of the team’s starting rotation on the DL, Wakefield is being leaned on to keep this team rolling.

After his win Sunday, the Sox had won 24 of 35 games since their woeful 2-10 start. They shipped off to Cleveland just one-half game behind the Yankees and Rays in the AL East, and were the hottest team in baseball.

Yet Wakefield knows his role on this team is fluid. He has made three starts on the season, and is penciled in to make another Friday in Detroit. Who knows what lies beyond that? John Lackey has been playing catch after receiving a cortisone shot in his pitching elbow, and will undoubtedly return to action shortly after his 15-day DL stint comes to an end that same day.

Daisuke Matsuzaka will be gone longer, perhaps much longer. That leaves Wakefield in a battle for a starting spot with Alfredo Aceves. Aceves threw five innings of one-run ball against the Cubs in his first start with the Red Sox on Saturday night and was in line for a win before the bullpen collapse. Aceves is 16 years younger than Wakefield.

Of course, everyone else playing Major League Baseball is younger than Wakefield. His opposing pitcher Sunday was 25-year-old James Russell. He was 6 years old when Wakefield made his big-league debut. Russell’s father, Jeff, pitched for the Red Sox for two seasons and was traded to Cleveland in 1994. Nine months later, the Sox signed Wakefield.


Boston was taking a gamble on Wakefield then. He had been released by the Pirates, and his future as a pitcher was in doubt. The gamble paid immediate dividends, with Wakefield winning 16 games that first season. The Sox won the division.

Seventeen seasons later, he is still winning games. He has been asked to do just about everything for the Sox in that time. He’s been a starter. He’s been a closer. Now he’s a starter-turned-reliever-turned-spot starter. And when his team needed him to step into the void and deliver, he did just that.

They say winning never gets old. Neither does Wakefield. When they give him the ball, he’ll do whatever he can to help the team. On Sunday night, he did plenty. Again.

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.


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