It all came apart for Matsuzaka in a six-run fifth inning, during which he stoically waited on the hill until Wakefield arrived, ostensibly to make a belated rescue.
Except it didn't work out that way. Wakefield, who had given up two home runs in 25 innings spanning four starts, gave up three home runs in the span of nine batters, and the Red Sox once again proved no match for the Baltimore Orioles, falling 12-9 on a hot night in Camden Yards.
It became a bit hotter after the game when Wakefield, who generally has been the consummate professional in his dealings with the media throughout his tenure in Boston, had a testy exchange with a reporter, refusing to discuss his outing until the media member left the vicinity.
Wakefield later apologized to the reporter privately, but it was no big leap to imagine that such a scene would not have occurred before Wakefield was exiled to the bullpen, a move that clearly has left him unhappy.
Being asked to clean up after Matsuzaka, who left trailing 7-4 after giving up a solo home run to Ty Wigginton, a tying single to Nick Markakis and a tiebreaking three-run homer to Matt Wieters, surely did nothing to lighten the mood. And then having a ruinous outing himself was practically an invitation to vent, much as David Ortiz did last month when he felt put upon by questions two games into the season.
(Ortiz, incidentally, hit two home runs Saturday on a night when nine balls left the yard -- five hit by the Orioles, four by the Sox.)
Ever since Wakefield was informed 10 days ago that he would be going to the bullpen when Matsuzaka was activated, he has refused to discuss the matter. And it was no different Saturday night.
When it was pointed out to him that his silence spoke volumes about how he felt about the move, he said, "Again, I'm not going to talk about the change in roles. Fair enough?"
Wakefield's night actually started on a high note, when he struck out Luke Scott to end the fifth inning with Miguel Tejada on second. Tejeda had doubled off Matsuzaka, the last of six hits he gave up in the inning.
But Wigginton hit Wakefield's first pitch of the sixth into the left-field seats, and after a couple of base hits, Markakis cranked a three-run homer that made the score 11-4.
Wakefield came out for the seventh and gave up his third home run, a solo shot by Scott after the Sox had drawn to within 11-8 on a two-run single by Victor Martinez and a two-run homer by Kevin Youkilis.
Wakefield, who was fully dressed immediately after the game and could have slipped into the night, went directly to his locker and turned his chair to face the middle of the room and take questions.
"I wasn't very good today," he said. "I had an opportunity to keep us in the game, the way our offense was going, and I just didn't do it."
Wakefield refused to blame his outing on his move to the bullpen. He downplayed the adjustment to a role he hasn't been in since he pitched three scoreless innings in the epic Game 5 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Yankees.
"No, I didn't feel like I needed to make [an adjustment]," he said. "Just get ready, come in and do what you're asked to, get outs, and I didn't get any outs today. Not when I needed to, anyway."
His most pointed declaration about his outing: "I feel responsible for us losing."
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.