(Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox seek to continue their excellent recent roll, as well as maintain their longtime mastery of the Cleveland Indians, when the two teams continue a four-game series this evening at Progressive Field.
Boston continued its winning ways with a 4-1 triumph over the Indians in Monday's opener of this set, the seventh in the last nine games for the surging Red Sox. Terry Francona's club has now gone 15-5 since May 17, the best record in the American League over that stretch.
The Red Sox received a terrific performance from Daisuke Matsuzaka in their latest win, with the Japanese star firing eight shutout innings on the night. Ex-Indian Victor Martinez, making his first appearance in Cleveland since being traded to Boston last July, burned his former team by going 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Matsuzaka (5-2) yielded just five hits and struck out five before giving way to Daniel Bard, who surrendered a solo homer to Austin Kearns to prevent a shutout, to start the ninth.
"His cutter was real effective," said Francona of Matsuzaka. "He had it working for him."
Marco Scutaro also had a big night for Boston, doubling three times and scoring a pair of runs in the victory.
Fausto Carmona (4-5) took the loss for Cleveland after allowing three runs (two earned) over six innings and struggling with his command, walking six Red Sox hitters and laboring through 111 pitches.
"Fausto was fighting all of the walks, but he kept his composure and gave us a chance," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Monday's win was Boston's in 19 non-playoff matchups against the Tribe since the start of the 2007 campaign. The Red Sox have posted an outstanding 8-2 record at Progressive Field during that time period.
Tim Wakefield will try to add to that total when he takes the mound for Boston tonight. The veteran knuckleballer will also be attempting to bounce back from a pair of horrid outings in each of his last two starts.
Wakefield was pounded for nine runs and 12 hits in just 3 2/3 innings of work in a home loss to Kansas City on May 28. He was somewhat better against Oakland this past Thursday, but still surrendered six runs and served up two homers in a six-inning stint to receive another loss.
The 43-year-old has often struggled while being shuffled between the rotation and the bullpen this season. Wakefield has just one win in 12 appearances, eight of which have been starts, and owns a lackluster 6.02 earned run average for the year.
The veteran right-hander does own an 11-8 record with a 4.23 ERA in 27 career appearances (22 starts) against Cleveland, which will send out the slumping David Huff for tonight's contest.
Since beating Texas with a complete-game four-hitter on April 15, Huff has posted a 1-5 record and a subpar 7.75 ERA over an eight-start span in which opposing hitters have batted a robust .356 off him. The low point for the second-year left-hander occurred at Yankee Stadium on May 29, when he was forced to leave after just 2 1/3 innings after being struck in the head by a line drive by Alex Rodriguez. Huff had allowed three runs on five hits and did not factor in the decision of an eventual 13-11 Indians' win.
The 25-year-old was able to return from that scary moment without missing a start, but wasn't effective in Thursday's meeting with Detroit. Huff was reached for three runs on six hits and walked a pair of Tigers in a three- inning no-decision.
This will be the first-ever encounter against Boston for Huff, who's gone 2-1 with a respectable 4.05 ERA in three home starts so far this year.
Huff figures to be challenged tonight by one of the game's hottest hitters in Martinez. The All-Star catcher is batting a scorching .458 (27-for-59) with five homers and 13 RBI since May 17.