Tim Wakefield is the most curious of beasts. One day, he can’t get his ass out of the second inning, surrendering flutterballs that hitters deposit somewhere west of the Charles. Other days, he’s frustration personified, tying batters up in knots, curiously unhittable and shutting down offenses like a fat guy downs a three-meat sub. It’s a do-or-die methodology that Jays manager Cito Gaston summed up thusly: “You get to him, or you don’t.”

The urgency and excellence and timeliness of Wake’s performance last night cannot be overstated. The Rays picked up some ground on us during their stay last week, and the Jays, cast in the role of spoiler but, amazingly, only 7.5 games back in the wild card standings, have never been ones to roll over, Ned Beatty style. This is war, pilgrims, and the if the Sox want to snare the division they’re gonna need to shut down the Jays offense and come up big against the likes of Burnett and Halladay. Thanks to Wake, we can chalk the first game up as a W.

Today, we’ve got two, with Byrd taking on Burnett and Colon against Litsch. Meanwhile, the Rays are playing two of their own against the Yanks, a situation that casts me in the difficult role of having to root for New York. Because if the Rays falter and the Sox can make hay against the Jays–tough as it’s going to be–we may find ourselves tied for first place by midnight. And I’m fine with that.