April 5, 2007

G3: Red Sox 4, Royals 1

It's in the books!
           IP  H  R ER BB  K  PIT
Matsuzaka 7 6 1 1 1 10 108 Win, 1-0
Romero 1 1 0 0 0 0 15 Hold, 1
Papelbon 1 0 0 0 0 2 13 Save, 1
Box.

Dice-K pitched a bit tentatively in the first inning. He had to be nervous; who wouldn't be? (Excited fans were at bars in Tokyo for the 3:00 AM start.)

DeJesus lined a single to left center on Dice's third pitch. German forced him at second (soft grounder, no relay) and Teahen worked a full count walk. Dice's 0-1 pitch to Emil Brown was up and in and Brown ended up tapping a two-hopper back to the mound. Dice had plenty of time to start a perfect 1-6-3 DP to end the inning.

Matsuzaka settled down after that, retiring the next nine Royals, including striking out the side in the fourth. He pitched smoothly, using all five (six?) of his pitches, and spotting them with pinpoint control. Often, he used his breaking stuff right away to get ahead before challenging the hitter with a fastball, either a bit up in the zone or on the outside corner. (Game time temp was 36, but it did not seem to affect Matsuzaka at all.)

In the 2nd, he got ahead of Buck 0-2 with a curve and a slider before getting him looking on a fastball. In the 4th, he caught German looking on a 2-2 fastball away. With Teahen, he threw a split down and in for a ball before pulling a string and getting him swinging and missing at a curveball. Then he whiffed Brown on three pitches: the last two were fastballs, one outside (called) and one up in the zone (swinging).

He showed a ton of confidence. There were some smiles, but he was all business. I couldn't help but be reminded of Pedro -- perhaps post-peak Pedro, when his fastball was no longer 97, but he was still an artist. Matsuzaka's fastball stayed around 91-92, with a couple at 94; his curve and changeup were the pitches that set hitters up and his control was exceptional. (Certainly very good for a pitcher with a fatigued arm making his debut in 40 degree weather.)

Matsuzaka's biggest threat came in the sixth. DeJesus homered to lead off the inning (cutting Boston's lead to 2-1) and German blooped a single to short right. Teahen was called out a 3-2 pitch and German was thrown out trying to steal. It was hard to tell if German was actually safe -- Lugo's tag was high and the umpire was nearly out of position to see the runner's foot on the bag. But now, there were two outs and no one on. Brown doubled to deep left, but it did no damage. After a visit from John Farrell, Dice came back to get Gordon -- starting him off with two splitters before freezing him with another fastball on the outside edge.

Dice retired the side in order in the seventh, with two more strikeouts. His inning-by-inning pitch counts:
15 12 13   14 24 18   12 - 108
Greinke pitched an excellent game for the Royals, relying mostly on off-speed stuff: 7 IP, 8 H, 2R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. He struck out David Ortiz three times and Peralta fanned him in the ninth.

It didn't feel much like a pitcher's duel, because Boston had their leadoff runner on base in all but two innings (the 1st and 9th). The ninth was the only time the Sox went down in order.

Ortiz did double to open the 8th, which led to a two-run rally that gave Boston some insurance. Then it was up to Papelbon to nail down the save. He got Brown looking on a slider, Gordon tapped to first and Shealy struck out swinging.

***

Daisuke Matsuzaka / Zack Greinke, 2 PM

Asahi in the fridge and a tape in the VCR. It's time.

WATCH. (Check out the shelf with one trophy on it and a nice space all ready for the next one.)

Will the cold temperature -- 33 this morning, maybe a touch over 40 at game time -- be a factor?

Most of Matsuzaka's starts in Japan were in domes. John Farrell:
Typically, either your fingertips or the skin will crystallize a little bit, but I'm sure he'll be able to blow on his hand to warm his hand up. ... He has pitched in cold weather. It's been on rare occasions. But one great thing about pitching on a cold day is the warmest guy is the starting pitcher.
Matsuzaka: "Last year I pitched in about 35 to 45 degrees in Morioka [in northern Japan], so I don't care about that for pitching. ... I'm not too concerned with the climate changes in each city." On April 21, 2006, Matsuzaka pitched seven innings and allowed one run against Rakuten, giving up five hits, striking out 11 and walking two.

Greinke will be making his first start since September 30, 2005. In the spring of 2006, he left the camp and was treated for depression and anxiety. He spent most of the season in AA.

***

Curt Schilling is still annoyed at his performance on Monday.
There wasn't a whole lot to study. It'd be like analyzing a race when your car stalls at the start. What's there to analyze?
And after talking about his "debauchery at third base", Mike Lowell took solace in an ice cream sandwich. "This is the best way to wash it out."

15 comments:

Sean said...

April 12th, tix available!

I just scored 2 in the left field grandstand, woohoo! Please, please, please rain on the 10th, we want Matsuzaka!

14 games for sean~

redsock said...

Cool!

Same lineup today.

Globe:

"First thing Ch. 4 sports reporter Dan Roche noticed as we walked into the Sox clubhouse: Dice-K sitting on the black leather couch watching himself in an old press conference on TV on ESPN. Dice-K seemed intrigued by the coverage of his major league debut and shared a few laughs with Hideki Okajima. ...

Francona said he contemplated using closer Jonathan Papelbon for an inning Wednesday night but he feared that with today's game he might be needed to close the game out."

Tito already tempted to waste Papelbon's innings -- in a blowout at night before a day game. Grrrrr.....

redsock said...

This is amazing. Dice is dealing!!!

After a tenative first inning (single and walk) -- which ended with a 1-6-3 DP, Matsuzaka has been toying with the Royals.

Using all his pitches, painting the outside corner with pinpoint control, he has retired the last 10 batters, with 5 strikeouts.

Just fanned the side in the 4th. This is fun!

1-0 Sox after 4.

redsock said...

Bit of trouble in the 5th. Two singles put Royals at 1st and 3rd with 2 outs. But Dice got a dribbler back to the mound.

2-0 Sox (Lugo doubled in the 5th, stole third and scored on the catcher's throwing error). Dice at 78 pitches thru 5.

MikeT9485 said...

I love watching Dice-K. He looks like he's having so much fun out there. He just gave up a homerun, bloop single, and a double, and he's still smiling! He's just so loose out there. Makes it look easy.

Zenslinger said...

It was great to see stay cool after giving up that HR, which occurred the moment I sat down to watch. The guy stealing second was safe, robbing them of a run since the next batter doubled -- but it was a very close play.

MLB.tv is awful. Stuttering -- bleh. If it was free I wouldn't complain, but...sheesh.

Zenslinger said...

Despite the clumsy slide and all, that was a good bit of baserunning by Ortiz. He started down the line as soon as the catcher lost it. I got a nice good look at how Ortiz was already charging before the catcher knew it had squirted away because the moment was freeze-framed on the slideshow known as MLB.tv.

Woti-woti said...

Dice-K is one cool customer--that first inning comebacker he turned into a DP would have been flung into center field by lesser mortals. The much-maligned 'bridge to Paps' is also cooking. Let the roll continue.

redsock said...

The bullpen so far:

10 innings
6 hits
2 runs
0 walks
8 strikeouts

Yes, great baserunning by Ortiz. He also hustled to third on Drew's fly to RCF to be in position to score on the WP.

Pedroia is hitting the ball better than anyone. I think he's 5-for-10 and a couple of his outs were line drives.

Andy said...

I had to spring for MLB.TV as well thanks to MLB screwing us all. I got the premium 700k package and I saw no ill-effects. I did watch on an older laptop but I have Verizon FiOS internet so maybe thats why it didnt stutter for me. I was worried it would since this was my first experience with the system.

Dice was awesome. never stressed. just like his nike commercial. its almost like he is retarded. There is obviously a stressful situation and he is just smiling and pitching incredibly. it was magical how many times he caught batters looking at strikes. We will know his true potential vs. the NY Gays.

9casey said...

Andy said:
its almost like he is retarded.

Yeah......something like that.?.?

They looked good some strange things early.

Lowell 3 errors
Papi 6 strikeouts
Romero used in all 3 games and Donnelly only one for a third.

2-3 from the royals onto Texas 2-3 will also be expected..

redsock said...

the NY Gays

Consider this your last warning about typing this kind of shit.

Suzy said...

i'm kind of in love with daisuke :)

in the most platonic way. but yeah. love. xo

i can't wait to see how he fares against the jays and the wanks ;D

The Couch Potato said...

As always, a great game summary. I was almost more impressed with Dice-K's overall poise than his command. (How many different pitches does he have, anyway??!!)Thank the Baseball Gods I live in NESN territory & don't have to deal with MLB, although I curse Comcast on a regular basis.

Andy said...

redsock said...
the NY Gays

Consider this your last warning about typing this kind of shit.

My apologies.