A SEASON IN THE DRINK
(CHICKEN & BEER) ...
Dice-K gives his strongest performance

April 18, 2011 ... Daisuke Matsuzaka knew he was walking a tightrope. He could sense patience was running thin. That much was evident when he took the mound for today's Boston Marathon matinee against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park and he was booed by the crowd of 37,916.

The memory of Matsuzaka's two-inning, seven-run, eight-hit debacle against the Rays the previous Monday lingered. And after the struggling Red Sox had put together back-to-back wins against the Sons of John Farrell, Matsuzaka didn't want to kill the momentum before the team left on a 10-day trip to the West Coast.

But that concern gave way to confidence in a 9-1 victory. Matsuzaka needed just one inning to win back the crowd, working a scoreless first despite allowing a single up the middle by Jose Bautista. He did not give up another hit and threw six more scoreless frames in recording his first win of the season, which dropped his earned run average from 12.86 to 6.43, and helped the Sox improve to 5-10. They finished the homestand with a 5-4 record.

Kevin Youkilis went 2 for 5 with a two-run homer combined with Jed Lowrie (4 for 5, 4 RBIs, two-run homer) and Jacoby Ellsbury (1 for 4, solo homer) to pace a season-high 13-hit attack.

Matsuzaka walked Travis Snider with two outs in the second, then retired a career-high 16 consecutive batters before turning it over to the bullpen. Yunel Escobar hit a solo homer in the ninth off Tim Wakefield. The two runners Matsuzaka allowed tied for his fewest in his 101 major league starts.

Matsuzaka credited his vastly improved performance to a different mental approach and because he was motivated not to lay another egg, as he had in that 16-5 loss to the Rays, in front of his former pitching coach, Farrell, now Toronto's manager.

Of course, a little run support helped. The Sox tagged Toronto lefthander Ricky Romero for five runs on eight hits. He gave up a two-run blast to Lowrie in the fifth that made it 5-0, and Youkilis hit a two-run shot off Luis Perez in a three-run sixth that stretched Boston's lead to 8-0. Ellsbury, who leads the team with four homers, hit a solo shot to deep right off reliever Octavio Dotel in the seventh to make it 9-0.

Carl Crawford, who struggled in the leadoff position during the homestand, going 3 for 32, snapped an 0-for-15 streak with a double off the wall to drive in the third run of the sixth. The crowd, which had been giving it to him like it had Matsuzaka, gave him a standing ovation when he reached second.

 

F   E   N   W   A   Y     P   A   R   K

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

 

R

H

E

 
 

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

 

 

1

2

0

 
 

BOSTON RED SOX

2

0

1

0

2

3

1

0

x

 

 

9

13

0

 

 

W-Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-2)
L-Ricky Romero (1-2)
Attendance - 37,916

 2B-Youkilis (Bost), Crawford (Bost), Gonzalez (Bost)

 3B-Drew (Bost)

 HR-Lowrie (Bost), Youkilis (Bost), Ellsbury (Bost)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AB

R

H

AVG

 

 

J.D. Drew rf 4 1 2 .282  

 

Darnell McDonald rf 0 0 0 .182  

 

Dustin Pedroia 2b 3 1 1 .316  

 

Adrian Gonzalez 1b 5 1 1 .263  

 

Kevin Youkilis 3b 5 2 2 .213  

 

David Ortiz dh 3 1 1 .265  

 

Jed Lowrie ss 5 2 4 .516  

 

Carl Crawford lf 5 0 1 .133  

 

Jason Varitek c 3 0 0 .063  

 

Jacoby Ellsbury cf 4 1 1 .200  
               
    IP H ER BB SO  
  Daisuke Matsuzaka 7 1 0 1 3  
  Alfredo Aceves 1 0 0 0 0  
  Tim Wakefield 1 1 1 0 0  

 

 

         

 

 

 

2011 A.L. EAST STANDINGS

 

 

New York Yankees 9 5 -

 

 

Tampa Bay Rays 7 9 3

 

 

Toronto Blue Jays 7 9 3

 

 

Baltimore Orioles 6 9 3 1/2

 

 

BOSTON RED SOX 5 10 4 1/2