With Ramirez expected to miss at least another game, Wakefield looks to continue his shutout streak and move into sole possession of the major league lead in wins as the struggling Red Sox open a three-game set with the struggling Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
Boston (80-54) was swept in a three-game series with the New York Yankees, playing the final two games without Ramirez—sidelined by a strained oblique— and scoring a total of three runs during that stretch. The Red Sox were held to two hits in the series finale, a 5-0 loss on Thursday, and their lead over the Yankees in the AL East is down to five games.
Ramirez, batting .292 with 20 home runs and 86 RBIs, is expected to miss at least Friday’s game.
“We can’t replace Manny in the lineup,” Boston catcher Jason Varitek told the team’s official Web site. “When he’s not in there, we have to do a lot of little things.”
The Red Sox were outscored 14-6 and outhit 30-13 by New York.
Boston, however, may not need many runs with Wakefield (16-10, 4.16 ERA) taking the mound Friday. The 41-year-old knuckleballer hasn’t given up a run in 22 straight innings, winning three games and allowing just nine hits in that span.
A win Friday would move Wakefield past teammate Josh Beckett (16-6) and John Lackey (16-8) of the Los Angeles Angels for the major league lead in wins. It would also match Wakefield’s career high in wins, set in 1998 when he went 17-8.
In his last start, the right-hander gave up three hits and struck out six in seven innings of a 14-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.
Wakefield earned a win against the Orioles on Aug. 2, yielding three runs and six hits while striking out five in seven innings as the Red Sox won 7-4. He is 14-3 with a 4.06 ERA in 30 starts and 13 relief appearances against Baltimore.
The Orioles (58-73), meanwhile, will send Radhames Liz (0-1, 7.50 ERA) to the mound as they try to snap a nine-game losing streak.
The 24-year-old right-hander made his major league debut Saturday, holding Minnesota to two runs through five innings Saturday night before allowing a three-run homer to Torii Hunter in the sixth as Baltimore lost 8-1. Liz gave up five runs and four hits while striking five in six innings, but was impressive with his fastball, reaching 97 mph in the sixth inning.
Liz was 11-4 with a 3.22 ERA for Double-A Bowie, striking out 161 batters in 137 innings.
The Orioles have allowed 98 runs during their losing streak, which matches a season high. They lost nine straight in mid-June, and fired manager Sam Perlozzo after the skid reached eight.
Baltimore attempted to bolster its bullpen Thursday by recalling Jon Leicester from Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles are in desperate need of a fresh long reliever, with their bullpen being taxed during the club’s losing streak.
“Obviously we’re in need of a multiple-inning type guy out of the bullpen. That’s why he’s here,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said of Leicester. “It’s something that we thought we had to do.”