Tavarez aims to shake off shaky game

Tavarez aims to shake off shaky game

What's next for Julian Tavarez?

The Red Sox's Friday starter morphed from shaky rotation material to competent fifth starter between mid-May and June. He steamed into July, gaining bite on his sinker and the confidence to make (effectively) wacky defensive plays, until things unraveled in a date with the league's top offense.

In Detroit on July 6, Tavarez allowed 10 hits and eight runs over 4 2/3 innings. Excluding a similarly ominous road loss in Seattle on June 25, in which he yielded nine baserunners, if just three earned runs, in 4 1/3 innings, Tavarez had enjoyed a run of consistent effectiveness. He lowered his ERA by more than two runs in less than two months.

The 34-year-old Dominican right-hander enters his first second half as an entrenched rotation regular since 2002, when he pitched for the Florida Marlins. In that year, Tavarez improved upon his first-half 5.81 ERA with a post-break 4.94 ERA mark, although other measures of success -- opponents' batting average, walk rate and strikeout rate -- dipped slightly.

Tavarez spoke enthusiastically about spending this year's All-Star break with his son and getting some rest before his Friday start against the Blue Jays. Red Sox fans will hope it did him some good.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Julian Tavarez (5-7, 4.97 ERA)
The Blue Jays have given Tavarez trouble in 21 meetings, only five of them starts, rapping out 50 hits, including six home runs, in 43 1/3 innings. Tavarez is 2-3 with a 4.57 ERA in his career against Toronto.

TOR: RHP Shaun Marcum (4-3, 3.62 ERA)
After contributing a month and a half of stellar starting pitching, Marcum ran into plenty of trouble of his own in his last start before the All-Star break. On Saturday, he allowed eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Cleveland Indians, as his ERA jumped from 2.86 to 3.62. He has yielded three earned runs in 15 career innings against the Red Sox.

Player to watch
Red Sox fans eagerly awaiting Manny Ramirez's second-half surge might remember Ramirez's eighth-inning home run against Marcum on April 19, the decisive blow in a 5-3 Red Sox win.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO 680, WROL (Español)

Up next
• Saturday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 10-6, 3.84) vs. Blue Jays (Dustin McGowan, 5-4, 4.65), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 12-2, 3.44) vs. Blue Jays (Jesse Litsch, 1-3, 4.74), 2:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Red Sox (Kason Gabbard, 2-0, 4.87) vs. Royals (Brian Bannister, 5-5, 3.71), 7:05 p.m. ET

Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.