Neither Josh Beckett nor Jeremy Bonderman were scheduled to pitch in the series between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. But with both pitchers expected to miss their next starts, it might make an immediate difference.
One day after a rainout, the Red Sox and Tigers hope for strong outings from their respective starters as the division leaders conclude their four-game set with a day-night doubleheader on Thursday at Fenway Park.
With each team losing starters to injury ahead of their Friday appearances— Beckett tore a flap of skin on his finger in his last start that has yet to heal, and Bonderman was placed on the disabled list due to a blister on a finger of his pitching hand—both the Red Sox (26-12) and Tigers (24-14) are hoping for quality outings from their starters to avoid overworking their bullpens.
In the first game, converted reliever Julian Tavarez (1-4, 6.60 ERA) will try to last longer than six innings for the first time this season and avoid a third straight loss. The right-hander allowed five runs and a season-high 10 hits in five innings of the Red Sox’s 6-3 loss to the Orioles on Friday.
“The main thing is staying healthy,” said Tavarez, who has pitched more than 5 1-3 innings just once in six starts. “Keep our starting pitching healthy, our bullpen and the position players and you will see in October we will be in the World Series. If everybody stays healthy, there’s no doubt we have everything we need out here.”
Detroit counters with Mike Maroth (3-0, 4.69), who is looking to open 4-0 for the first time in his career. The left-hander has won all four of his decisions with a 5.52 ERA in his 14 appearances since suffering his last defeat on May 7, 2006, and the Tigers are 7-0 this year when he takes the mound.
“I think the best thing about Mike Maroth is he competes,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He stays within himself and competes.”
But Maroth, whose longest outing this season came Friday when he limited the Minnesota Twins to one run in 6 2-3 innings of a 7-3 victory, is 0-6 with a 7.22 ERA in seven starts against the Red Sox since they traded him to Detroit on July 31, 1999.
In the nightcap, Curt Schilling (4-1, 3.63) looks to win five straight decisions for the first time since May 16-June 29, 2006, but he is coming off a poor outing in his second-shortest start. The right-hander allowed four runs and a season-high nine hits in 5 1-3 innings, and did not receive a decision in the Red Sox’s 13-4 home win over Baltimore on Saturday.
Schilling is 1-3 with a 5.14 ERA in six appearances against the Tigers, including a 1-1 record with a 3.67 ERA in four starts. But he failed to receive a decision in two starts last season despite allowing just four runs in 13 innings.
Chad Durbin (3-1, 5.08) is seeking a career-high fourth consecutive victory, and has an opportunity to win three straight starts for the first time since May 12-23, 2001, while pitching for Kansas City. The right-hander limited the Twins to two runs in six innings of Detroit’s 8-2 victory Saturday, and the Tigers have scored 21 runs in his last two starts.
After allowing 16 runs in 13 2-3 innings in his first three starts, Durbin has yielded just six runs in 25 2-3 innings while winning three of his last four.
Durbin is 1-0 with a 9.39 ERA in two starts and three lifetime appearances against Boston, but failed to last more than four innings in either start.
Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew is questionable due to a back injury suffered when he crashed into the wall in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 7-2 defeat. While manager Terry Francona did not say if Drew would play Thursday, he was encouraged Drew said he didn’t feel any worse than when he left the game.
The Tigers are just 4-14 at Fenway Park since 2003.