In his first 11 starts this year, Dice allowed 16 runs, with opponents OPSing over 1.000. (After the first, he's fine; in all 13 starts this season, Matsuzaka has allowed only one second-inning run and one third-inning run.)
Three starts ago, [he] felt like it might be worth changing up how much throwing he did at 6:15 basically for a 7:15 game with about a 12- or 14-minute cool-down period. At that time it seemed like it took him a full inning to really kind of get into the rhythm of the game. So he went back to a pregame routine that was reminiscent of 2007, and it's allowed him to throw early in the day, not as many throws in total long-toss and bullpen work leading up to the start of the game. His warm-ups end about seven or eight minutes prior to the game, so it's allowed him to maintain a rhythm that he develops in the bullpen warming up and carries into the game.It has worked. He gave up a one-out double against the Blue Jays on July 11 and retired the A's in order last night.
Over his last nine starts, beginning with his no-hit bid against the Phillies on May 22, Matsuzaka has a 2.89 ERA. Walks are still an issue (opponents have a .312 OBP over that time), but they are hitting only .206 and slugging .289.
Matsuzaka threw first-pitch strikes to each of the first nine batters (!) and 12 of the first 14.
He was able to throw strikes with every pitch that he has, he even broke out his changeup [7, according to Brooks] that he hasn't used that much recently and it was pretty effective for him. When he can get that cut fastball in to lefties and then just getting ahead with his fastball down and away to righties, he's going to have good outings.Since Victor Martinez went on the DL, Red Sox catchers are batting .132 (7-for-53). Cash is 4-for-34 (.118, all singles). FWIW: The Red Sox have a team ERA of 4.20 in the 10 games Cash has started, compared to 4.33 for the season.
The Red Sox have averaged 3.9 runs over their last 12 games -- and that includes a 14-3 win over the Blue Jays. They have scored 33 runs in the other 11 games, and gone 3-8.
Mike Lowell received a cortisone shot in his right hip yesterday and will begin a rehab stint of at least four games with Pawtucket on Thursday. ... Jeremy Hermida went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts for the PawSox last night. He will play again tonight and join the Sox in Seattle.
Since blowing two saves to the Rockies on June 23-24, Jonathan Papelbon has allowed only one hit in 7.1 innings, with six strikeouts. Daniel Bard has not given up a run in his last 12 outings (12.1 innings).