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OK. I admit that’s a stretch. Still, Julian Tavarez picked up tonight where he left off last September by allowing one run and six hits in 5.2 innings. The Sox held on for a 6-5 win over Philadelphia. Tavarez faced a lineup that included most of Philly’s regulars. He threw 69 pitches, an economical outing. Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka give the Sox one of the game’s best 1-2-3 punches. Tim Wakefield can be counted on for 12-14 wins. If Tavarez keeps his ERA near or below the 4.00 mark, where he was as a starter last season, the Sox will have one of the game’s most formidable rotations.
Boston was productive offensively. Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew continued their torrid pace by each slugging a home run. Manny Ramirez added a dinger, too. Jason Varitek had two hits to lift his spring training average to a dismal .143. Dustin Pedroia went yard and is now hitting .217. Let’s hope this game helps the confidence of Varitek and Pedroia at the plate.
It was not a pleasant outing for Kyle Snyder, who surrendered four runs and five hits in 2.2 innings. Of course, three of those runs scored on the two hits that Travis Hughes gave up after relieving Snyder. Hughes did retire Michael Bourn to end the game and record the save.
I still find it amazing that the fortunes of Tavarez can fall, rise, fall and rise again as he shuttles between the bullpen and rotation. He was atrocious as a reliever last year, but gained the confidence of Sox management and fans with his performance in the rotation last September. Then he performed poorly at the beginning of spring training, and though he started to throw the ball well in relief, Red Sox Nation shuddered at the thought of the lone remaining EZ-brother closing, as was projected until Jonathan Papelbon reclaimed that role. Once again, he proved his worth as a starter tonight. If he wore Yankee pinstripes, he would likely be the No. 3 or No. 4 starter.
Until Jon Lester is ready, the Sox have options at Triple-A if Tavarez falters. That won’t be an issue if Tavarez builds on tonight’s start. What are your thoughts about the Sox No. 5 spot in the rotation? Are you as high on Kason Gabbard and Devern Hansack as I am? Are you comfortable when Tavarez takes the hill (at least as a starter)?