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Notes: Wakefield on target for Game 4

Notes: Wakefield on target for Game 4

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BOSTON -- The pencil surrounding Tim Wakefield's start for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Indians is starting to turn into ink.

The veteran knuckleballer threw five simulated innings and 77 pitches on Tuesday and had no ill effects a day later.

"He's doing well -- real well," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He's real upbeat."

Not that Francona was surprised. As he came off the field following the simulated game, Wakefield gave his manager some telling body language.

"Yesterday after he threw, he gave me the thumbs-up when he was done," said Francona. "He knew it was an important day and treated it as such. I think we were pretty pleased with the way the ball was coming out of his hand."

Wakefield, who was left off the AL Division Series roster because of soreness in the back of his right shoulder, will start on Tuesday in Cleveland, assuming there are no health setbacks or weather issues.

Wakefield's next start will be his first since Sept. 29. The right-hander tied a career high in wins this year with 17.

Kielty likely for Game 1: Though Francona didn't want to delve into his lineup 48 hours before the first pitch, there's a strong chance that Bobby Kielty will start Game 1 in right field in place of J.D. Drew.

The switch-hitting Kielty is a .310 (9-for-29) lifetime hitter against Indians ace C.C. Sabathia, with four doubles and two homers. The left-handed-swinging Drew is 0-for-3 in his limited experience with Sabathia.

"Bobby has certainly had some success against Sabathia," said Francona. "But as to what we'd do, I'd really rather get to the players first."

Kielty, who didn't play in the ALDS sweep over the Angels, is eager to get in there.

"I've had success against him in the past," said Kielty. "We'll see what happens, but I feel confident."

Home could be sweet: The Red Sox are in the unfamiliar position of holding home-field advantage for the ALCS, something they could not say the last three times they advanced to this level.

The Red Sox were 51-30 at Fenway Park this season.

"It's great. I think these fans are going to be so excited," said Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis. "To play at Fenway is always fun. But to have a playoff home-field advantage and know that you're going to be here in front of these fans is big."

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Manny being consistent: Combine his 24-game injury hiatus with his inconsistency before that and this has been one of Manny Ramirez's least impressive seasons from a statistical standpoint. But Francona has seen a different side of Ramirez. What he's seen is a more complete player.

"I think this has been his most consistent year," Francona said. "Maybe not his most productive year, but I think his most consistent as far as effort on the bases, in the outfield, things like that. We're really thrilled about that. I do think -- maybe because he missed time -- maybe just because it's the playoffs, he looks like he's dialed in. I know his presence in the batting order is huge."

Ramirez went 3-for-8 in the ALDS, with a pair of towering home runs.

Staying sharp: Ace Josh Beckett will have had eight days of rest by the time he takes the ball for Game 1. That marks Beckett's longest layoff since he missed two starts in May with an avulsion on his right middle finger.

Beckett is compensating with extra side work. Daisuke Matsuzaka will make his Game 3 start on nine days' rest.

Dice-K will throw to hitters during Thursday's workout.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["league_championship_series" ] }
{"content":["league_championship_series" ] }
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