Red Sox - 000 011 000 - 2 9 0Superb outing from Dice (6.2-2-1-0-9, 96) -- and Youkilis goes 3-for-4 and scores both runs.
Athletics - 010 000 000 - 1 3 1
Matsuzaka's first five batters were a little iffy. He pitched a perfect first, with two strikeouts, but needed 17 pitches. Then he gave up a first-pitch home run to Cust to start the second and fell behind Brown 3-0.
But he got Brown on a grounder to short -- after the Cust dong, he allowed only one of the next 17 A's to reach base (Suzuki singled to open the third and was caught stealing). Matsuzaka struck out seven of his last 11 batters. Of the 21 hitters he faced, only four hit the ball out of the infield.
Yook began the fifth with a single to center. Two outs later, he went to second on Lugo's single off the Blanton's foot and slid in ahead of the tag on Ellsbury's single to right. With two outs in the sixth, Yook tripled and scored on Varitek's double -- which hit above the yellow line in right center (a home run, but the umps blew the call).
Okajima relieved Dice with two outs in the seventh. He walked Cust but got Brown to pop to Pedroia to end the inning. He allowed a single to start the eighth, but got a force play and a fly out before handing the ball to Papelbon.
Bot got an inning-ending force, then came back with some no-nonsense heat in the ninth, striking out the side.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (125 ERA+) / Joe Blanton (84 ERA+)
Let's begin again.
Tony Massarotti, Herald:
In Matsuzaka's final 13 starts of 2007 (including the postseason), he threw 1,331 pitches in 71 innings, an average of nearly 19 pitches an inning. His average outing was 5 innings, and he needed about 102 pitches to get through it.Last Tuesday, Dice threw 96 pitches in five innings.
Check it out: Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp have the team's second- and third-best OPS+:
What ... too early to get excited?AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Ramirez .333 .333 .889 209
Lugo .500 .571 .500 186
Crisp .333 .333 .667 156
The Red Sox have a tough April schedule. After the two games in Oakland, they play three in Toronto before hosting the Tigers and Yankees, then travelling to Cleveland and New York. After April 22's game against the Angels, the Red Sox will have already played the three other playoff teams from last season. The Yankees also meet Cleveland and the Tigers this month, but they also have nine games against the White Sox, Royals and Orioles.
After yesterday's rainout, the Yankees play Toronto at 7 PM (Halladay/Wang). Pedro goes tonight (also at 7 PM) as the Mets host the Marlins.