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Daisuke Matsuzaka has mostly had a bad season. He entered Saturday night’s game in Philadelphia with a 7.89 ERA in four starts after his return from the disabled list. The numbers would be much worse if you take out his outstanding performance against the Blue Jays two turns ago (7 IP, 1 ER, 9 Ks).
Coming off a horrible performance against the Yankees (4.2 IP, 7 ER), Dice-K needed to prove that he deserves to remain in the rotation when Josh Beckett is set to return in June (though I doubt Terry Francona would put Dice-K in the pen anyway…). He showed that he belongs and then some, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning until a bloop off the bat of Juan Castro fell for a base hit, just inches away from Marco Scutaro’s reach. Obviously disappointed, Dice-K stayed focused and got out of the inning unscathed.
The final line was impressive: eight innings, zero runs, one hit, four walks, and five strikeouts. He finally seemed to be pitching with confidence again instead of being afraid to attack the strike zone, a trust in himself that he showed in his dominant outing earlier this month against the Blue Jays. To no surprise to anyone, Dice-K ran up a high pitch count despite the dominance and was pulled for Daniel Bard, who slammed the door in the ninth on a 5-0 win.
The Red Sox got their first run in the fourth inning on a Jeremy Hermida sacrifice fly to score David Ortiz, who was playing first base to give Kevin Youkilis a night off. The Sox then got four more to blow the game open a bit the next inning. After J.D. Drew slapped an RBI single to left field, David Ortiz doubled home Jacoby Ellsbury, and Adrian Beltre doubled home both Drew and Ortiz to give the Sox a five-run cushion.
Ellsbury made his return off the disabled list, starting in CF and leading off. He finished 0-4 with a walk and a run scored.
Let’s give props to Dice-K, who probably just had one of the best starts in his major league career. His problem is that he lacks consistency, which is something could use in their starting rotation. Can he follow up this start with another strong outing?
I’m totally nitpicking here…but it would have been really nice if he caught that ball in the eighth inning. Can you imagine Dice-K going for a no-no in the ninth? Everyone watching the Celtics would have immediately flipped to see his attempt at history.
W: Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-1)
L: Kyle Kendrick (2-2)