A two-game sweep of their biggest rival could give the Minnesota Twins the momentum they need to end their recent struggles at Fenway Park.
The Twins look to match a season high with their third straight victory and avoid an eighth consecutive road loss to the Boston Red Sox on Friday night.
Minnesota (11-18) totaled four runs in two games but received some outstanding pitching to end a six-game skid by sweeping the White Sox in Chicago. Francisco Liriano’s(notes) no-hitter in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory highlighted the series, then Nick Blackburn(notes) threw 6 2-3 solid innings in a 3-2 win Wednesday.
The Twins hope to play better in Boston, where they’ve been outscored 51-18 during a seven-game skid since the start of the 2008 season.
The challenge to score at Fenway gets even tougher without injured stars Joe Mauer(notes) and Jim Thome(notes) in the lineup for Minnesota, which has scored three runs or fewer in eight straight games.
Instead, 44-year-old knuckleballer Tim Wakefield(notes) (0-0, 4.08 ERA) will make his second start of the season. In his first one, Wakefield allowed one run and three hits in 5 2-3 innings of Boston’s 3-2 win over Seattle on Sunday.
The right-hander is 13-6 with a 4.43 ERA in 24 starts versus Minnesota.
Wakefield, who threw 12 pitches in relief Wednesday, will leave the bullpen without another veteran after Bobby Jenks(notes) (arm cramp) and Dan Wheeler(notes) (calf) were placed on the disabled list Thursday.
Boston (14-17) looks to bounce back after dropping the final two of a four-game set with the Angels to fall to 3-4 on an 11-game homestand.
The Red Sox seemed to feel the effects of Wednesday’s game, which included a 2 hour, 35 minute rain delay and ended at 2:45 a.m., while losing 11-0 Thursday afternoon.
David Ortiz(notes) had three of Boston’s seven hits Thursday, and is batting .361 his last nine games. The ex-Twin has hit .467 with nine homers and 20 RBIs in 17 games against his former team at Fenway Park.
The right-hander allowed eight runs and four homers over 11 innings to lose his first two starts, but has given up three runs and no homers over 20 1-3 innings to go 1-0 over the last three. Baker allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings Friday and was in line to win before reliever Alex Burnett(notes) squandered a lead in the eighth inning of a 4-3 loss at Kansas City.
Baker is 0-2 with a 4.58 ERA in three starts versus Boston - all Twins losses at Fenway.