Monday, March 26, 2007



I had the opportunity to catch part of Daisuke Matsuzaka(!)'s start today against the Cincinnati Reds. I was doing school work as well, so I did not pay super close attention, but I was impressed with what I saw. Matsuzaka! clearly did not have his best stuff. That was evident from his placement of the ball compared to where catcher Jason Varitek set up, and the expression on his face immediately following many of his pitches.

Despite that, Matsuzaka! was very effective. He did not allow a hit in five innings of work, striking out six and walking five. They say in spring training that the results don't matter, and that is certainly true. What did matter was that Matsuzaka !was facing the Reds opening day lineup, or at least very close to it, and not one player hit the ball hard off him all day long. The hardest hit ball was in the first inning. After walking Ryan Freel on five pitches to start the game, Matsuzaka! went 3-0 on Adam Dunn. Dunn got a fastball up and just outside the zone, and swung away. He hit a fly ball to left field that, were the wind not blowing in, might have made the outer edges of the warning track. But the wind was blowing in and the ball was caught in deep left field, about 15-20 feet shy of the track.

Matsuzaka! had trouble locating some of his pitches, which led to the five walks. Going forward, I don't see that as much of a problem, though. The five walks he issued today brought his total for the spring up to eight. That means in all his previous outings he had issued three walks total. I calculate Matsuzaka(!)'s spring ERA to be somewhere around 2.11 now (4 earned runs in 17 innings).

This wasn't a big start for Matsuzaka. Its the spring, he was facing an NL team, and Manny and Oritz weren't there. But its better to pitch well than not to.

Next Saturday I'm going to get chance to see his Matsuzaka!-ness up close and personal when the Red Sox make their annually inexplicable two game trip to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies. Yours truly will be in the upper deck, along with four or five other Red Sox fans, to cheer Matsuzaka! along. I'll try to get there early and take some pictures.

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