Tuesday March 22, 2011 | 08:08 AM

If the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry comes down to the No. 5 starter, it will be an interesting duel. Daisuke Matsuzaka vs, Bartolo Colon.

Matsauzaka is the pitcher who Red Sox followers hope will finally turn it around. Colon, 37, once was a good pitcher, but has not been dependable since 2005.

Colon pitched six innings of two-hit ball against the Rays. One of the hits was a Kelly Shoppach home run. But Colon also struck out five and walked none.

In four spring training games, Colon has a 2.40 ERA. His competition for the No. 5 spot, Freddy Garcia, has a 5.93 ERA in four appearances.

Colon was a sparkling 21-8 in 2005 for the Angels. He averaged only 12 games a season over the next four years, and did not pitch at all in 2010. If he does make the rotation, can he stick for the whole season?

Meanwhile, closer Jonathan Papelbon also faced the Rays on Monday - one of Tampa Bay's Class A minor league teams. He gave up two hits and a walk over 1 1/3 inning. That is not a big deal. Daniel Bard allowed four hits and a run in the same game.

But, according to boston.com, Papelbon threw only half of his 28 pitches for strikes.

At least they are playing baseball in Florida. More snow in Maine last night. Want a reminder that baseball is indeed on the way? The Sea Dogs luncheon in the Hadlock clubhouse is this Friday. Tickets are $15. See www.seadogs.com

About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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