Angels - 000 000 001 - 1 6 1Matsuzaka (6-3-0-3-5, 93) did not allow a hit until the fifth inning -- and he worked out of a 2nd & 3rd, 1 out jam in that inning by striking out pinch-hitter Gary Matthews and Chone Figgins.
Red Sox - 000 002 02x - 4 9 0
Dice stayed with his fastball in the early innings. He threw 63% fastballs, much higher than his 52.5% career average. His pitches were faster, crisper and far less hittable than at any other point this season. However, he did throw only 56% strikes.
The Sox scored twice in the sixth. Alex Gonzalez singled off the Wall and Jacoby Ellsbury bunted for a hit. Dustin pedroia bunted down the third base line, and Lackey threw the ball away past third. Seabass scored. After J.D. Drew grounded out and Jason Bay walked to load the bases, David Ortiz singled off left fielder Juan Rivera's shoetops.
In the eighth, Drew tripled with one out and scored on Bay's single to left. Bay was easily thrown out trying for a double. Ortiz then launched a dong to dead center. It was his 270th home run as a DH, a new major league record.
Dice got ahead of the first batter of the game (Figgins) 0-2, but walked him. Same old Dice? No. He retired the next eight Angels until he walked Figgins again (with two outs) in the 3rd. But he got the next hitter and then retired the side in order in the fourth. He got out of the fifth inning jam, then worked around a one-out double in the sixth.
The Blue Jays belted five dongs in a 10-4 rout of the Yankees (although the MFY outhit them!) and the A's beat the Rangers 6-1, so Boston is 6.5 GB in the East and 5.5 GA in the WC.
John Lackey (3.53, 129 ERA+) / Daisuke Matsuzaka (8.23, 57 ERA+)
Matsuzaka returns to the Boston rotation after almost three months. His last start was on June 19 (log). The big question -- the only question, really -- is which Dice will we see?
Along the way there was a bit of controversy about his training and pitching methods. (And NPB had a brief post in August about pitch counts in Japan and MLB.)
He has done an outstanding job of committing to a program and getting himself in what we consider, just from the naked eye, better shape. He's reshaped his body. He's added core strength. He's gotten the strength levels in his shoulder back to a level where he was a year ago. I think he feels good about himself as well, so we're all looking forward to his next time out here.Terry Francona:
He kind of evolved the last couple of years. He got away from the guy we had signed for a few different reasons. I think what we're hoping to do is see closer to the stuff that we saw when we signed him. You might not see the exact same stuff. I don't know if that's fair. But get closer to it this year, [and hope] that during the winter then when he comes back next year, we're back to that guy with a better comfort for pitching here and living here culturally and competing.In his final minor league start, Dice hit 93 with his fastball and threw 61 of 89 pitches for strikes. But that was against A-ball hitters.
My guess for tonight? 5-4-1-2-6, 95.
Plus: A reminder of what a dush and clown Lackey is.
Blue Jays/Yankees at 7 and A's/Rangers at 8.