Wakefield looks to continue dominance

Wakefield looks to continue dominance

The way Kevin Cash tells it, it doesn't matter who catches Tim Wakefield.

"He's going to control his game," Cash says. "He's going to control the entire game, basically."

Cash will be Wakefield's primary receiver on Monday at 7:10 p.m., when the Red Sox take on the Devil Rays at Tropicana Field. Summoned to the big leagues on Friday after Doug Mirabelli landed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained calf, Cash played catch with Wakefield during the weekend and has declared himself ready for the responsibility of knuckleball caddy.

Catching Wakefield's slow-moving offerings against a slap-happy, fast-running outfit like the Rays can present unique challenges. But there's a reason why the Devil Rays have been virtually defenseless against Wakefield, who owns an 18-2 record and 2.83 ERA against them.

"You almost want aggressive hitters," Cash says. "Let them go ahead and swing at the knuckleball. If it's good, you get a bunch of popups and ground balls. If guys get on base? I'm going to do what I can to throw them out. But Wakefield's going to control the game. I'm not going to ask him to alter his game plan because they get a couple of fast guys on base."

Lefty Scott Kazmir, who boasts his own nifty performance record against the Red Sox (5-3, 2.37) gets the start for Tampa Bay.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Tim Wakefield (14-10, 4.55 ERA)
Wakefield has dominated the Devil Rays, generally, but his record at Tropicana Field is more reminiscent of a right-handed Randy Johnson in his prime than a 41-year-old knuckleballer with a 4.31 career ERA. Wakefield is 8-0 with a 2.33 ERA there, allowing only 60 hits in 89 innings for an opponents' average of .190.

TB: LHP Scott Kazmir (9-7, 3.44 ERA)
The 23-year-old Kazmir has had little trouble against Boston in his young career. He has faced the Red Sox 14 times, three more than any other team, and posted a 5-3 record with a 2.37 ERA in 83 2/3 innings. Furthermore, he has held the Sox to a .213 batting average with 91 strikeouts. And few pitchers -- likely none -- have enjoyed as thoroughly dominant a performance record against David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. The Red Sox sluggers are a combined 10-for-70 (.143) against Kazmir.

Player to watch
It is no coincidence that new Red Sox acquisition Bobby Kielty gets to join the team in time to face Kazmir, against whom he is 7-for-13 with two homers.

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
• Tuesday: Red Sox (Jon Lester, 1-0, 5.14) at Devil Rays (Andy Sonnanstine, 2-8, 6.17), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 13-9, 3.79) at Devil Rays (Edwin Jackson, 3-12, 5.69), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 15-5, 3.15) at White Sox (John Danks, 6-11, 5.30), 8:11 p.m. ET

Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.