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Wakefield aims to rebound

Wakefield aims to rebound

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Tim Wakefield didn't care to talk Friday about his next scheduled start in Texas. But he knows he won't escape scrutiny if his knuckleball doesn't provide some answers Saturday against the Rangers.

Wakefield is coming off consecutive losses to the Tigers and Yankees. To stop his skid, he'll need to pitch well against a Texas club that has traditionally given him trouble.

In 29 career games (22 starts) against the Rangers, Wakefield is 7-14 with a 5.89 ERA. He has allowed the Rangers to bat .278 against him over the years, and to slug 24 home runs in 146 2/3 innings.

But this year's Texas offense has not put pitchers in the constant peril of seasons past. Wakefield pitched well in an April 6 start in Arlington, losing a 2-0 decision when he gave up two runs (one earned) in six innings. And though the Rangers scored 14 runs in back-to-back games last Sunday and Monday, they only rank fifth among the 14 American League teams in runs scored and 13th in team batting average.

The Rangers lead the Majors in home runs, but also rank second in the American League in strikeouts and eighth in walks, indicators of an impatient, free-swinging team that could play into Wakefield's hands if his knuckleball is working. The Rangers struck out 18 times last Tuesday and 11 more times Wednesday against the Twins. When it comes to Wakefield's fluttering pitch, Texas hitters know they must make the Boston veteran throw strikes.

"We're an aggressive team, but we have to have more disciplined at-bats," Rangers shortstop Michael Young said. "There's a big difference between being an aggressive team and free-swinging. And we have to be more aggressive in the strike zone."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Tim Wakefield (4-5, 3.14 ERA)
Wakefield is coming off consecutive losses to the Tigers and Yankees in which he gave up a combined 11 earned runs and four home runs in just 12 innings. He has not fared well at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, posting a 4-11 record and 5.63 ERA in 16 career appearances (13 starts) here. He has given up nine home runs in 84 2/3 innings in Arlington.

TEX: RHP Vicente Padilla (2-6, 5.52 ERA)
Padilla is 2-3 with a 5.05 ERA over his last seven starts, and the Rangers are just 2-8 when he has pitched this year. The Nicaraguan right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.04 ERA in four home starts this season. He is 1-2 with a 4.70 ERA in five career games (four starts) against the Red Sox.

Player to watch
David Ortiz is 4-for-10 (.400) in his career against Padilla, with two doubles, two home runs, two walks and no strikeouts.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO 680, WROL (Español)

Up next
• Sunday: Red Sox (Julian Tavarez, 3-4, 5.27) at Texas (Kameron Loe, 1-4, 6.38), 3:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Red Sox (Curt Schilling, 4-2, 3.94) vs. Cleveland (Cliff Lee, 2-1, 5.93), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 7-0, 2.66) vs. Cleveland (Jeremy Sowers, 1-4, 6.29), 7:05 p.m. ET

Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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