Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Monday, June 19, 2006

SNYDER'S SURPRISE

The scouting report on Kyle Snyder noted a good changeup and an average curve. That was only half right. In his first start for the Red Sox, Snyder threw the curve ball quite effectively, and at the end of the night came away with just his third big league victory.

In five solid innings, the vertically gifted righty had a career-high six strikeouts and allowed three runs on just four hits. Snyder's only miscues were the solo homers he surrendered to Jose Vidro and Jose Guillen, but because he allowed so few baserunners, those runs didn't come back to haunt him. Doing more than enough to keep his team in the game, Snyder came up with a performance no one could have predicted.

Coming into tonight's contest, the 28-year-old's major league record (spanning 2003 to 2006) was 2-9 over 29 games, including 19 starts. As unimpressive as the record was, Snyder's 5.91 ERA was equally unflattering. And this season, with Triple A Omaha, he was 0-4 in 10 games (nine starts), with a 3.88 ERA, 43 K's and just nine walks in 60 1/3 innings.

So whatever Snyder's shortcomings were, control wasn't one of them.

But in his only appearance with Kansas City this year, Snyder allowed nine runs (five earned) on 10 hits in two-plus innings. That June 8th debacle was enough for the Royals, and they put the 6'8" righty on waivers. The Red Sox, as desperate as they are for pitching, were willing to take a flier on a guy who couldn't find a spot in the worst rotation in baseball.

Good move for the Sox, it seems. Apparently someone did their homework on Snyder and perhaps he can be of help to the team again this season. The speculation was that Snyder would be sent down to Pawtucket after this start, but his sharp performance likely turned some heads, and perhaps changed some minds. Immediate word after the game was that Jermaine Van Buren was optioned to Pawtucket and Craig Hansen was recalled. Snyder remains safe, at least for now. Jon Lester may fill David Wells spot in the rotation -- to which he may never return -- but Matt Clement remains a question mark, at best, and Snyder could come in handy again this season. It's still only June.

Sure, the game had other highlights; Manny Ramirez's 453 career home run, which moved him past Carl Yastremzski and Jim Thome, and into a tie with Gary Sheffield for 28th on baseball's career list; Gabe Kapler's return to the starting lineup for the first time since rupturing his Achilles' tendon last Sept. (his eventful return included two hits, highlighted by an RBI double, and a fine catch in right); and four scoreless innings from the combination of Van Buren, Javier Lopez (each of whom also started the season in Triple-A), Rudy Seanez and Mike Timlin, who earned his first save of the year.

So there was good news all around, but none better than the surprise performance of power-forward-sized pitcher who seemingly came out of nowhere and may have earned himself a place in the rotation in the process -- or at least another start in coming weeks.

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