The 40-year-old knuckleballer seeks to put a pair of poor outings behind him and improve his fortunes against Texas when the Red Sox and Rangers continue their three-game series.
Wakefield (4-5, 3.14 ERA) was excellent to open the season, compiling an AL-leading 1.79 ERA through his first seven outings while never giving up more than three earned runs. In his last two outings, though, he has been touched for 11 runs and surrendered four homers - double the number he allowed in his first seven starts.
On Monday night at New York, Wakefield allowed a season-high six runs in a season-low five innings, giving up nine hits - two of them homers - and walking five in a 6-2 loss to the Yankees.
“I tried my best to grind it out, but I never had it tonight,” Wakefield said.
Wakefield also hasn’t usually had his good knuckler against the Rangers (18-30). He is 7-14 against them with a 5.89 ERA - his highest versus any AL opponent - in 29 career appearances, including 22 starts. He has suffered 11 of those defeats at Arlington.
In his April 6 season debut at Texas, Wakefield yielded only two runs - one earned - in six innings, but suffered a tough-luck loss as Boston fell 2-0. The Red Sox have provided the veteran with a total of only five runs of support in his five losses.
Boston’s lineup had no such problems in Friday night’s series opener, a 10-6 victory. All nine Red Sox starters reached base, as they piled up 10 hits and seven walks and scored four runs in both the second and sixth innings.
“One through nine our lineup was chipping away,” manager Terry Francona said. “It’s a good formula for winning.”
The Red Sox (32-15) improved to a major league-best 25-0 when they score at least five runs.
They also rebounded from dropping two of three games this week to the arch-rival New York Yankees, and raised their AL East lead back to 10 1/2 games with the victory.
Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis went 2-for-5 to extend his career-best hitting streak to 17 games. He is batting .443 (31-for-70) during the run.
Texas, meanwhile, has lost three straight games for the sixth time already in 2007. Pitching has been the main culprit, as the Rangers have a 6.78 ERA in their 30 losses this year and have given up 22 runs in the current three-game skid.
Rangers starting pitchers have also combined to last only five innings in the last two games. After Robinson Tejeda gave up five runs in three innings of Wednesday’s loss to Minnesota, Brandon McCarthy left Friday’s game after two innings due to a blister on his middle finger.
When he’s pitched at home, Vicente Padilla (2-6, 5.52) has been a bright spot for Texas. Padilla is 0-4 with a 7.59 ERA in six road outings, but has not given up more than three earned runs in any of his four starts in Arlington, going 2-2 with a 3.04 ERA.
The right-hander beat Minnesota at home on Monday, when he gave up two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 14-4 victory. He also pitched well against the Red Sox in a 3-2 loss April 8, allowing three runs and four hits over seven innings.