Prior to last night’s matchup against the Miami Marlins, Red Sox [team stats] manager Bobby Valentine expressed two wishes for Daisuke Matsuzaka [stats]’s third start of the season: for him to participate in a winning performance, and enjoy a trouble-free first inning.
Valentine had to settle for only one of those wishes, as the Sox battled back to defeat the Marlins 6-5 after Matsuzaka struggled through the first inning when he allowed three earned runs on three hits and one walk.
“It was very, very hot during the first inning,” Valentine said. “We wanted to bring him a towel rather than a messenger. He didn’t adjust well to all of that sweating. After that, he was near perfect.”
“I let up a few runs in the first inning, but the game still goes on — so I needed to reset myself mentally going into the second inning, which I was able to do until the Stanton home run,” Matsuzaka said. “I was sweating a lot in the first inning — the heat definitely affected that — but going out there for the second inning, I felt a lot more refreshed and settled down. Looking back, the first inning was regretful.”
Herald - Mixed roll for Dice
"The first inning was regretful" - The Daisuke Matsuzaka story
Watching Dice-K struggle at the beginning of a game and then suddenly realize that he's actually a very talented pitcher is nothing new. Hearing him blame his early struggles on sweat, however, is. I don't mean to dismiss the heat as a reason for him to have trouble out there. I'm sure his body needed some time to adjust, and once he felt a little more comfortable he could get to work. But I'd be more prone to believing it if I hadn't watch him be terrible at the beginnings of games for the past 6 seasons.
Putting all that aside, I've been very happy with post-surgery Matsuzaka. We had been hoping that he could come in and give the Sox some solid starts, and just give them a chance to win. It's only been three starts, but he's been able to do just that.
The stats aren't exactly pretty -- his ERA is over 6, with 11 runs allowed in 16 innings. But he has struck out 15 batters, walked 5 and allowed just 13 hits. His WHIP is at a career low 1.10 and batters are only hitting .213 off of him, so there's certainly some positives here. Buuuuuut, it's only three starts and we have more than half a season to go.
But if he can figure out how to come out of the gate strong (and his arm holds up), he may just have one hell of a second half.
(Disgusting photo of sweaty Dice-K sniffing his armpits by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
On Page 2, more youths to get excited about
Righthander Matt Barnes and shortstop Xander Bogaerts were selected to the Futures Game, which will be on July 8 in Kansas City.
Barnes and Bogaerts, teammates with Single A Salem, will oppose each other in the game. Barnes, a former University of Connecticut standout from Bethel, Conn., will play for the United States team. Bogaerts, a native of Oranjestad, Aruba, will be playing for the World Team.
Barnes, 22, was the 19th overall pick of the 2011 draft. He is 7-1 with an 0.99 earned run average in 13 starts with Greenville and Salem this season. Over 72.2 innings, he has allowed 45 hits, walked 12 and struck out 95.
Bogaerts, 19, is hitting .293/.368/.483 over 66 games for Salem with nine homers and 42 RBI.
I really hope the Sox front office has the patience to stick with some of these prospects -- and that Sox fans have the patience to let them.
Despite the Adrian Gonzalez trade, we have a core group of really talented players. None of which need to be paid 100+ million dollars.
Rest of the links:
Herald -Sox rally propelled by youth |John Henry happy with Sox’ response | David Ortiz blasts media | Globe - Red Sox show some Will power | Energetic Kalish providing dash of excitement | WEEI -Making it work: How Will Middlebrooks is making the most of a complicated situation | Bobby V: Middlebrooks playing time 'just fine' | Crawford could return to games Saturday | CSNNE - Saltalamacchia: Matsuzaka 'battled' | Middlebrooks leads Sox to 6-5 victory over Marlins, series sweep