Wakefield (7-8, 4.14 ERA), who was sidelined with a stress fracture in his rib cage area, is one of several Boston pitchers who have struggled to stay healthy this season. Matt Clement has been on the disabled list since June with a shoulder strain, closer Jonathan Papelbon has recently been bothered by a shoulder strain of his own and rookie starter Jon Lester left the team after being diagnosed with lymphoma.
Meanwhile, Lenny DiNardo, who has not started since May 21 because of a neck strain, is scheduled to start on Thursday. Ace Curt Schilling, who missed his last two starts because of a strained side muscle, is slated to return Saturday.
The team is waiting for word on Gabbard, who left Tuesday’s 6-5 win after 4 2-3 innings with tightness in his left side.
Wakefield is 13-12 with a 4.02 ERA in 40 appearances—including 27 starts— against the Orioles. He is 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA in three starts against them this season, and will likely be closely monitored during Wednesday’s start.
“The only soreness I want him to have is the normal soreness from pitching,” manager Terry Francona said. “I want him to go home in the offseason knowing he is OK.”
Wakefield pitched a five-inning simulated game a week ago, throwing 80 pitches.
“It’s been a frustrating injury,” said Wakefield, who turned 40 on Aug. 2. “I’ve really never been hurt my whole career. To have an injury like this, it’s kind of a weird injury. You’re thinking you’ll be back in a month, and seven or eight weeks later you’re still trying to feel good about yourself.”
In his last start, the knuckleballer allowed three runs and four hits in four innings against the Kansas City Royals. Wakefield did not receive a decision in the 5-4 win, which kept Boston one-half game ahead of the New York Yankees in the AL East.
Since then, the Red Sox have fallen 10 1/2 games behind the Yankees and eight games behind the Minnesota Twins in the wild card.
The Red Sox are looking to win three straight for the first time since sweeping the Orioles in three games Aug. 11-13.
Baltimore will hand the ball to Erik Bedard (13-9, 3.91), who allowed two runs and four hits while striking out eight in a 9-4 win over the Yankees on Friday. The left-hander had been winless in his previous seven starts.
“I talked to (Bedard) and said, ‘You got that one out of the way, it’s clear sailing from here on out,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. “Hopefully, that’s the case, but he’s been doing great for us all year long.”
Bedard is 2-3 with a 6.29 ERA in seven appearances—including six starts— against the Red Sox. Boston slugger David Ortiz has struggled against the left-hander, going 2-for-12 with four strikeouts and no extra-base hits.