Four days after making his second appearance of the season as Boston’s closer, Wakefield takes the mound as a starter as the Red Sox face the Minnesota Twins in the middle game of their weekend series at the Metrodome.
On Tuesday, Wakefield pitched a scoreless ninth inning, wrapping up Boston’s 7-3 win over the Kansas City Royals.
Wakefield’s relief appearance came one night after Brandon Lyon gave up two runs in the ninth, giving the Royals a 7-6 win.
“It was a big lift for us,” manager Grady Little said of Wakefield’s appearance. “It saved us. We’re going to come back for an early game (today) and it will be big for our bullpen then.”
The last time Wakefield started, the bullpen allowed five runs in a 9-4 loss to Minnesota on Sunday. Still, Little has faith in his relievers.
“I hope it does more fire-lighting than destroying confidence to tell you the truth,” Little said. “Every player and pitcher here knows I’m going to do whatever I can to win a game.
“I still have confidence in these guys down there, they just need to have confidence in themselves and develop the consistency we need coming out of that bullpen. I think it will happen.”
On Friday, the Red Sox lost for the third time in their last five, 5-0 to the Twins.
“Anytime you go up against Pedro and you get some runs, you feel pretty fortunate,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We know he’s going to be one of the best pitchers in this game for some time. We feel pretty good about ourselves.”
STANDINGS: Red Sox - 2nd place, 3 GB, AL East. Twins - 2nd place, 1 1/2 GB, AL Central.
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Wakefield (3-1, 4.50 ERA). In his six starts this season, Wakefield is 3-1 with a 4.89 ERA. In his two appearances out of the bullpen, he has yet to give up an earned run in three innings. In 17 career appearances, including 14 starts, against the Twins, Wakefield is 9-2 with a 4.14 ERA.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Kenny Rogers (4-1, 4.14 ERA). Rogers gave up four earned runs and seven hits over six innings in Sunday’s win over the Red Sox. In 43 appearances, including 21 starts, against the Red Sox, he is 11-5 with a 4.40 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Red Sox - Trot Nixon, .333 avg.; Nomar Garciaparra, 6 HRs and 27 runs; Shea Hillenbrand, 27 RBIs; Johnny Damon, 8 SBs. Twins - Jacque Jones, .338 avg., 24 runs and 5 SBs; Bobby Kielty, 5 HRs; Torii Hunter, 22 RBIs.
SEASON SERIES: Twins, 3-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Red Sox - The Red Sox have come from behind in nine of 22 wins this season. … Heading into Friday’s game, CF Johnny Damon led Boston with a .344 career average at the Metrodome. … SS Garciaparra is 21-for-42 (.500) with six doubles and a home run all-time against LHP Rogers. Twins - Through 34 games, the Twins are two games off last year’s record. … Minnesota sent rookie RF Michael Cuddyer to the minors to accommodate INF Denny Hocking’s activation from the disabled list. … DH/C Matthew LeCroy, who missed the last three games with a sore hamstring, ran the bases successfully before Friday’s game and should start Saturday.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Sox - 11-9 on the road; Twins - 7-7 at home.
INJURIES: Red Sox - RHP Chad Fox (oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Robert Person (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Matt White (oblique), 15-day DL. Twins - RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 15-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (knee), 60-day DL.