Wakefield, whose strong season has been hindered by a lack of offensive support, looks for better fortunes Wednesday night when the Red Sox and Kansas City Royals conclude their three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.
Although he owns a losing record, Wakefield (6-8, 3.77 ERA) has been among the league’s more effective starters for more than two months. The knuckleballer, who turned 42 on Saturday, owns a 2.74 ERA and a .195 opponent batting average since May 28, but only a 3-5 record to show for it in 12 starts.
Poor run support has been the primary culprit. The Red Sox (65-49) have scored three runs or fewer for Wakefield in eight of his last 12 outings, including a total of six runs in his last three starts.
Wakefield limited Oakland to four hits and three walks in 6 1-3 scoreless innings Friday, but wound up without a decision in a 12-inning, 2-1 defeat for Boston. He is 10-6 with a 3.89 ERA in 24 career appearances versus the Royals, 17 of them starts.
The Red Sox benefited from plenty of offense Tuesday, scoring in five different innings and totaling 13 hits in an 8-2 victory to bounce back from Monday’s series-opening 4-3 loss. Tuesday’s win—Boston’s fourth in five games overall—enabled the Red Sox to stay within three games of AL East-leading Tampa Bay.
Jason Bay had two doubles among his four hits while driving in a pair of runs and scoring twice. The left fielder, acquired from Pittsburgh in last week’s trade sending Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles, is 9-for-21 (.429) with eight runs scored, six RBIs and four extra-base hits since joining the Red Sox. He has at least one hit in all five games with his new team to help Boston go 4-1 since the deal.
“The biggest thing is you look around and nobody is counting on you to be that guy,” Bay said. “You’re just a complimentary piece of that puzzle. Since I’ve been here, I’ve had two guys on base every second or third time I get up there. That’s a testament to the lineup.
“Just coming over here, I’m trying to be comfortable and trying not to do too much. I think that’s probably helped simplify it. Obviously some success early helps you relax a little bit.”
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia singled to extend his road hitting streak to 26 games, the longest such run by a Boston hitter since Tris Speaker’s 29-game road streak in 1913. It’s also the longest road hitting streak in the majors since Luis Castillo had a hit in 27 straight road games for Florida in 2002.
Alex Gordon went 2-for-3 Tuesday but also committed two errors at third base for the Royals, who saw their three-game winning streak snapped and suffered only their second defeat in nine games.
Seeking a series win, Kansas City (53-61) will turn to slumping starter Luke Hochevar (6-9, 5.42).
The right-hander is 1-4 with a 7.36 ERA and a .304 opponent batting average since July 1. He gave up four runs and a season high-tying 10 hits in six innings of Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Hochevar also struggled May 19 at Boston, allowing seven runs—four earned — five hits and six walks in six innings of a 7-0 defeat as he wound up on the losing end of Jon Lester’s no-hitter.