The Red Sox did not hit a ball out of the infield until the seventh inning. Hernandez was six outs away from a no-hitter, but JD Drew singled through the infield to right center to start the eighth -- extending his hitting streak to 8 games. That was Boston's only hit (Hernandez walked two).
Matsuzaka pitched alright (7-8-3-1-4, 103), but he would have had to be perfect to come out on top tonight. He had only one 1-2-3 inning (the 3rd). With one out in the second, Guillen singled, went to third on Johjima's double and scored on Betancourt's sac fly. In the fifth, Lopez singled, Beltre doubled (2-0) and Vidro singled (3-0). (box)
Against Matsuzaka, Ichiro grounded back to the mound in the 1st, popped to shallow center in the 3rd, struck out swinging in the 5th and grounded into a fielder's choice in the 7th. ... Johjima doubled twice; Vidro and Lopez singled twice.
Hernandez dominated the Red Sox with a fastball that stayed between 96-99 with exceptional movement, and a devastating slider and curve. His two starts this season:
IP H R ER BB K BF PITOf the 58 batters Hernandez has faced, only 7 have hit the ball out of the infield (3 A's, 4 Sox). That is ridiculous.
0402 vs Oak 8 3 0 0 2 12 29 110
0411 at Bos 9 1 0 0 2 6 29 111
17 4 0 0 4 18
Pregame note: The Globe's Gary Dzen estimates that
fans of Japanese descent made up about 50 percent of the early arrivals at Fenway today. There was a tangible buzz around the stands when Ichiro stepped onto the field for BP.Red Sox lineup is the usual. ... Lugo, Ortiz, Ramirez, and Lowell are all 1-for-3 against Felix Hernandez. Crisp is 0-for-2. Youkilis, Drew, Varitek and Pedroia have never faced him.
Against Matsuzaka in Japan: Ichiro was 8-for-34 (.235) and Kenji Johjima was 32-for-118 (.271) with five HR and 11 RBI.
Felix Hernandez / Daisuke Matsuzaka, 7 PM
Now that we got the Fenway opener out of the way ... we have what could be a fantastic pitchers' duel tonight.
On Opening Day, King Felix shut out the Athletics on three hits over eight innings, striking out a career-high 12 batters. He threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of the 29 batters he faced. ... He turned 21 on Sunday and will be pitching on eight days rest. "It seems like forever since I pitched. ... I just have to make sure to throw strikes."
Many great pitchers have performed at Fenway Park. When I stand there, special emotions may come to me. ... [Fenway] is a sacred place. ... Ever since [Ichiro] left Japan to go to the Majors, he is someone I've wanted to face again.Ichiro:
I hope he arouses the fire that's dormant in the innermost recesses of my soul. I plan to face him with the zeal of a challenger.The two men first faced each other on May 16, 1999, when Matsuzaka was 18 years old. Suzuki struck out three times that day. After that game, Dice said: "As a professional player, my confidence has become conviction."
In the 1999 and 2000 seasons, Ichiro batted .235 against Matsuzaka (8-for-34). [Globe graphic with every AB]
Richie Sexson on facing Matsuzaka: "Before we go out there, it would be nice to look at some film to know a little bit about what he's got. ... You hate to go out there naked and not know anything." Kenji Johjima's advice for his teammates? "I would first tell them to 'Pray to God.' ... He is one of the best pitchers I have ever faced."