Red Soxs Wakefield chasing milestones

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 5:51 PM ET

As good as Adrian Gonzalez has been all season, and as productive as Dustin Pedroia has been of late, an argument can still be made that the most important cog for Terry Francona's Red Sox has been 44-year-old right-hander Tim Wakefield.

Wakefield came back for a 19th season -- his 17th with the Red Sox -- as an insurance policy of sorts for Francona. The plan was to give him a spot start here and there, but Wakefield's primary role was going to be in the bullpen.

But with three-fifths of their Opening Day starting rotation currently on the disabled list, Wakefield has been called upon to make 12 starts.

On Sunday, the ageless knuckleballer tries to draw closer to career win No. 200 when the Red Sox wrap up a three-game series against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.

Wakefield, who is 5-3 with a 4.80 earned run average, was not sharp in his most recent outing on Monday in Baltimore. He allowed seven runs (three earned) and nine hits in only 4 2/3 inning, but escaped with a no-decision in Boston's wild 15-10 win.

He didn't get a decision against the Mariners back on May 1, but pitched well, allowing a run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. For his career against the Mariners, though, Wakefield is 4-10 with a 4.08 ERA in 28 games -- including 18 starts.

In addition to chasing 200 career wins -- he's stuck on 198 -- Wakefield is also closing in on his 2,000th strikeout with the Red Sox, as he needs just four more to reach that mark.

While Wakefield will be making the 616th appearance of his big league career, Seattle rookie Michael Pineda will take the ball for only the 20th time on Sunday. The rookie right-hander has been marvelous for the hapless Mariners, going 8-6 with a 3.24 ERA.

Pineda was ineffective in his first start following his All-Star Game appearance, as the Toronto Blue Jays battered him for five runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, although he didn't get a decision in his team's 6-5 loss.

Sunday marks his first appearance against the Red Sox.


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