Byrd happy to be on hand
Boston (85-58) vs. Los Angeles (86-58), 7:10 p.m. ET
BOSTON -- At a time when Paul Byrd could be fretting over his future in the rotation, the wily veteran is keeping things in perspective.
Daisuke Matsuzaka made a valiant return from the disabled list Tuesday night, and Tim Wakefield could take the mound as early as this weekend, a pair of developments that don't seem to bode well for the soft-tossing right-hander.
And yet, Byrd isn't concerned. After sitting out most of the season to spend time with his family, the 38-year-old is cherishing the chance to extend his Major League career with the Red Sox.
"I'm just taking it one day at a time," Byrd said. "I work hard, I feel like I'm in shape, and I feel really good. My arm has appreciated the rest and feels very strong. I just want to stay sharp, and whatever happens with me, happens with me.
"I want a World Series ring, any way I can help this team get that. If they need me to clean toilets, I'll go do that. Whatever they need me to do, I'll do. I told that to Tito [Francona]. I said, 'I'll help you out any way I can. I'll get ready, and whatever you need me to do, I'll do.'"
Three starts into his return from semi-retirement, Byrd has experienced just about every type of pitching performance there is: the good, the bad and the mediocre.
First came his sparkling debut Aug. 30 in which he hurled six shutout frames in a victory over the Blue Jays, followed by a disastrous seven-run, 2 1/3-inning outing five days later in Chicago that left him "foaming at the mouth," as he put it, for another start.
Byrd got that start, last Wednesday against the Orioles, but he wasn't particularly sharp, permitting nine baserunners over five innings of two-run ball.
Perhaps his stiffest test since rejoining the Red Sox comes Wednesday night at Fenway Park, when Byrd will oppose an Angels lineup that boasts quality hitters from top to bottom.
"They're a great team over there, a first-place team that has a better record than us," Byrd said. "We're in for a dog fight."
The stature of his opponent, however, won't impact Byrd's approach. After all, it never does.
"I just have to throw strikes, stay ahead in the count and make them hit my pitch versus fall behind," Byrd said. "I've had a great start, a horrible one and then an OK start. This time, I'm hoping to just give our team six or seven innings, keep us in the game and give us a chance to win. That's where I'm at. For me to do that, I have to compete well and throw strikes."Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Paul Byrd (1-1, 6.08 ERA)
Byrd is unbeaten in his past three starts at Fenway Park dating back to Sept. 24, 2008, posting a 3.38 ERA over that span. In nine career appearances against the Angels, he is 4-2 with a 4.94 ERA. LAA: LHP Joe Saunders (13-7, 4.81 ERA)
Saunders delivered one of his finest performances of the season last Friday at Angel Stadium, retiring the final 15 White Sox batters he faced after allowing a home run to lead off the third inning. He yielded one run on three hits over seven frames, striking out three to win his fourth consecutive decision. The stylish southpaw from Virginia Tech has done some of his best road work at Fenway Park, where he is 3-0 lifetime with a 2.75 ERA in three appearances. The 28-year-old is 4-1 overall with a 3.25 ERA in seven career starts against the Red Sox. Tidbits
Wakefield (left leg, lower back) threw a side session Tuesday at Fenway Park and could start for the Red Sox as soon as Sunday in Baltimore or Monday in Kansas City. "Nothing's really changed," Francona said of the veteran knuckleballer's health status. "We'll see how he feels when he shows up [Wednesday], whether he's better, worse or the same, and we'll go from there. We're trying to stay with this and do the right thing, but to be honest, I don't think we know what the right thing is yet." ... Boston has won 12 of its past 13 home games and is 23-7 at Fenway Park since July 10. ... Red Sox pitchers have combined for an 0.84 ERA over the club's past four contests. ... Second baseman Dustin Pedroia is batting .385 (10-for-26) over the course of a seven-game hitting streak. ... Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury has a team-high 53 multihit efforts this season. Tickets
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Thursday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 15-6, 3.82) vs. Angels (Ervin Santana, 7-8, 5.52), 7:10 p.m. ET
Friday: Red Sox (Clay Buchholz, 5-3, 3.66) at Orioles (Jeremy Guthrie, 10-14, 5.06), 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday: Red Sox (Jon Lester, 13-7, 3.29) at Orioles (David Hernandez, 4-8, 5.40), 7:05 p.m. ET
John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.