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Before the Celtics tip off tonight against the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston sports fans were treated with a similarly unpredictable event: the return of Daisuke Matsuzaka to the major leagues after a year removed because of Tommy John surgery. He showed good stuff for the most part, but allowed four runs and the Red Sox offense couldn’t get much going, losing by a final score of 4-2.
He started strong, striking out two batters in a quick first inning. His breaking pitches were extremely effective, as he managed to strike out eight batters over five innings, walking just a single batter. He threw 80 pitches (52 for strikes) and despite struggling in the fourth inning, proved to be a potentially reliable arm following the surgery.
The Nationals continued to roll out excellent starting pitching as they sent Gio Gonzalez to the mound. He pitching into the seventh inning, allowing only three hits and two runs, both of which scored after he had departed on a 2-RBI double by pinch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Unfortunately Salty couldn’t keep a Sox rally in the ninth inning alive as he grounded out to end the game after a double by Ryan Sweeney.
Matsuzaka allowed a solo home run to Adam LaRoche to begin the second inning, and three more runs in the fourth highlighted by a 2-RBI single by Ian Desmond. After departing the Sox bullpen pitched well again, as Franklin Morales threw three perfect innings and Alfredo Aceves did the same in the top of the ninth.
Missed opportunities cost the Sox in the loss, highlighted by the team going 1-10 with runners in scoring position. They’ll attempt to avoid a sweep tomorrow afternoon as Jon Lester squares off with Jordan Zimmerman. Boston is now 29-30 as they struggle to soar past the .500 mark, but the solid outing by Dice-K certainly is a big step forward.
Tags: Adam LaRoche, Alfredo Aceves, Boston Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Franklin Morales, Gio Gonzalez, Ian Desmond, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jon Lester, Jordan Zimmerman, Ryan Sweeney, Washington Nationals