It would have to be Wakefield, wouldn't it? On the day when Timmy Knuckles became one of four active pitchers to achieve 2,000 strikeouts and made an excellent return to the starting role with a quality start (3 runs in 7 innings), the offense was non-supportive: Ortiz got a hit. The Sox came close to scoring at least once, but blew opportunities.
I've been mentally assigning these losses to bad luck for a few years now, as I've been scarred by that stretch from 2007 to 2008 season, when Wakefield had fifteen starts where the Sox scored 0 to 2 runs, and 21 starts where they scored 3 to 5 runs. But that feeling isn't particularly fair: throughout his career, the offense scored three or more runs in two-thirds of Wake's starts. He's been far more likely to score a victory when they score six runs or more, which has happened in about forty percent of his starts. The real problem was Marcum, who's had a lot of success against the Sox (2.91 ERA in 55.2 innings) and even more in Fenway (2.08 ERA in 26 innings) and had no problems bringing more of the same yesterday. We'll call it a mix of bad luck and opponent skill.
But there was more, of course: Boston finally broke through for two runs against closer Kevin Gregg in the ninth and seemed likely to at least garner a tie thanks in great part to David Ortiz, who already two hits on the day and seems to be emerging from his winter slumber. With one out and J. D. Drew on second, Ortiz struck out looking on a pitch so far out of the zone it made home plate umpire Dale Scott's already elongated strike zone look, well...it was enough for Jerry Remy to call it ridiculous, and it was enough to get Terry Francona out of the dugout. The out wasn't the end of the game - Beltre singled in another run in the next at-bat - but it feels like enough of an unnecessary gut shot for me to call it the difference between a win and a loss. Just Wakefield's bad luck, right?