Wakefield faces the Yankees for the third time in his last five starts as the Boston Red Sox play the middle game of their latest series against their archrivals at Fenway Park on Tuesday.
This is the ninth series between the Red Sox and Yankees since the beginning of last season, and Wakefield has made a start each time. No other starting pitcher has faced New York more than six times over that span.
Wakefield (3-5, 4.17 ERA) also has thrown 53 2-3 innings versus the Yankees in the last two seasons, the only major league pitcher who has thrown 40 innings or more against them.
For all the opportunities the Yankees have had to face the knuckleballer, they’ve only had modest success against him. Wakefield is 2-4 with a 4.19 ERA in his eight outings against New York since the start of 2005, but has held the Yankees to a .190 batting average and received more than two runs of support only twice.
The Red Sox (26-16) have won both of Wakefield’s starts against the Yankees (24-19) this season, with him receiving a decision in one of them. He allowed a total of six runs in 13 innings over the two outings.
The 39-year-old knuckleballer lost at Baltimore last Wednesday, giving up four runs and eight hits in seven innings.
Boston improved to 4-1 against the Yankees this season with a 9-5 victory in Monday’s series opener. Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz each drove in three runs, and every Red Sox starter except right fielder Trot Nixon scored at least once.
After going 2-for-4 Monday, Ortiz is 10-for-21 (.476) with two homers and 10 RBIs in the five meetings with New York this season.
Curt Schilling had little difficulty Monday with an injury-depleted Yankee lineup, giving up one run in eight innings to move into a tie for the major league lead with his seventh win and the 199th of his career.
“This is a team that’s been wracked with some real significant injuries,” Schilling said. “I’m sure it’s a different lineup than we’re going to see next time we see them.”
The lineup could be different as soon as Tuesday. Sheffield joined the Yankees Monday night after going 1-for-3 in a minor league rehab game and could be activated for this contest.
“We’re taking it moment by moment,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “The Boston series is possible if everything goes all right. It has nothing to do with the Red Sox. It has everything to do with how he feels. If he’s ready to go we’ll take him.”
Yankees starter Jaret Wright (1-3, 4.94) looks to defeat a team which has given him trouble in the past. The right-hander is 1-4 with a 7.30 ERA in nine starts versus Boston, five of which saw him leave the game before pitching five innings.
Wright allowed three runs and six hits in six innings Thursday against Texas, taking the loss in a 6-2 Yankees defeat.
New York did not score until after Wright had left that contest, the third time in his five starts he received no runs from his offense. Wright’s 1.98 run support average is the lowest for any major league pitcher with at least five starts this season.