The Boston Red Sox are playing so well now that even their fifth starter is on a winning streak.
Tavarez (5-4, 4.50 ERA) has become an important contributor for the Red Sox (48-26). While Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka have been outstanding at the top of the rotation, Curt Schilling is on the 15-day disabled list and Tim Wakefield has a 9.00 ERA in his last two starts.
Tavarez, meanwhile, has been better than expected, particularly lately. He is 4-0 with a 3.65 ERA in his last seven starts, a stretch that includes his best performance of the season.
He scattered three hits over seven innings, walked one and struck out four Wednesday in an 11-0 win at Atlanta.
A victory in this game would give Tavarez wins in three straight starts for the first time since June 15-25, 2001 with the Chicago Cubs.
“He takes the ball whenever you give it to him and he really enjoys pitching,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “The ball has so much life through the zone, because this is probably the most he’s started in a long, long time.”
Tavarez is 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 18 career relief appearances against the Mariners. This is his first start against Seattle (39-33).
Beckett became baseball’s first 11-game winner and Jason Varitek tripled and homered Sunday in Boston’s 4-2 victory at San Diego. Beckett outpitched Padres ace Jake Peavy, who entered with nine wins and a NL-leading 1.98 ERA, but threw 111 pitches in five innings.
“He’s obviously, if not the best, one of the best in the game, and we did make him work hard,” Francona said. “And fortunately for us, one of the other best is on our team, and he was great.”
The Red Sox took two of three games from the Padres, finishing interleague play 12-6, the third-best mark in the majors.
Boston won for the seventh time in nine games and stayed percentage points ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for the best record in the majors. Since losing a season-high four straight, the Red Sox have won 11 of 16 to open an 11-game lead over Toronto in the AL East.
The Mariners overcame two home runs by Ken Griffey Jr. and rallied for a 3-2 victory Sunday over Cincinnati.
The Mariners continue to be very streaky, winning four of five after losing a season-high six straight which followed five consecutive victories.
Jeff Weaver (1-6, 8.56) takes the mound for Seattle hoping to build on one of the best outings of his career.
The right-hander entered Wednesday’s start against Pittsburgh 0-6 with a 10.97 ERA, but dazzled the Pirates with a four-hitter in a 7-0 victory. He walked two and struck out a season-high five in his sixth career shutout.
Weaver is 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA in three interleague starts, compared to 0-6 with a 14.32 in six starts against the AL.
Weaver was tagged for seven runs and seven hits in only two innings of a 14-3 loss at Boston on April 10. He is 3-5 with a 6.99 ERA in 12 career starts against the Red Sox.
Varitek is 8-for-19 (.421) with two home runs against Weaver.
The Red Sox are 2-1 at home against the Mariners this season, but have lost five in a row at Safeco Field.