DETROIT -- Sometimes Julian Tavarez struggles, no one will debate that. But Friday night against the Tigers was an unusually bad outing for Tavarez. The right-hander gave up eight runs on 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings for his worst start since he joined the Red Sox prior to the 2005 season. Not even the high-powered Red Sox offense, which had scored 15 runs in its previous game, could overcome the poor outing in a 9-2 loss at Comerica Park.
"Over the past couple of outings that I've had, this was the worst," Tavarez said. In fact, it was his worst start for any team in more than five years. The eight runs were the most he has given up since he allowed 10 in a May 16, 2002, game against the Rockies at Coors Field. Spacious Comerica Park is a bit more pitcher-friendly than Coors, though Detroit's home field couldn't contain the Tigers in fifth. They scored five runs in that frame, the first on a solo homer by Curtis Granderson to lead off. The next homer, though, was much most costly. Tavarez had nearly worked himself out of the inning, recording two outs after giving up a single and hitting a batter. Tavarez intentionally walked lefty Sean Casey to load the bases and get to the right-handed Marcus Thames. It was the most logical choice, as Thames entered Friday's game with a .194 average against right-handers. Manager Terry Francona considered inserting lefty Javier Lopez to face Casey, but said that he didn't want to use the bullpen too early in the game. "We were in a bind there," Francona said. "Sometimes you run into a situation where your pitcher just has to get somebody out. And it worked out about as badly as it could." Thames sent a 1-2 pitch from Tavarez into the left-field bullpen for his third career grand slam and an 8-1 Tigers lead. "I knew it [was gone]," Tavarez said "As a pitcher, you know when you go through the scouting report. Those kind of guys, a fastball hitter, you miss a spot, he will hurt you." Though it may have appeared that Tavarez had good command -- his only walk of the game was the intentional pass to Casey -- he did hit two batters and couldn't avoid the big inning in the fifth after a three-run inning in the fourth. "[He] hit a righty [Gary Sheffield] and a lefty [Mike Rabelo]," Francona said. "That's a pretty good indication that [the command is off]. Usually, if he struggles, he'll have one part of the plate he can go to." As for the usual potent offense, Boston's only runs came on a Coco Crisp RBI single in the third and a solo homer by Doug Mirabelli in the ninth. Detroit rookie Andrew Miller allowed just three hits over seven innings. "When a guy's throwing that hard, to pitch inside that well, it makes it tough," said Jeff Bailey, who was making his Major League debut after 11 seasons in the Minors. "You almost have to cheat to get to some of those pitches. I know he got me twice in there." One of those times almost resulted in Bailey's first RBI. In the third inning, Bailey got jammed, but he still managed to hit a fly ball to center field. Granderson camped under the ball and threw out Wily Mo Pena at home for a double play instead of a sacrifice fly. "It would have been nice," Bailey said. "Oh, well." Pena, who had reached on a leadoff triple, was the first to apologize to Bailey. "Wily came in the dugout after and said, 'Sorry, man, I was tired from running on that triple,' " Bailey said. "[It was a] momentum-shifter, too." Not that the single run would have mattered in the long run, but at least it could have given the Red Sox something positive on an otherwise dour night.
Tim Kirby is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.