Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dice-K Does It Again

With a reckless abandon in regards to pitch count or efficiency, Daisuke Matsuzaka went on the attack against the Baltimore Orioles last night. He threw brilliantly located pitches mixed in with wild, who knows where that one is going, pitches. In the end, batters were never sure what was coming at them, and the result was that Dice-K, again, kept his team in contention for a win.

Dice-K MatsuzakaThe highlight of the evening for Dice-K was the 4th inning when he found himself in a tough situation with the bases loaded and only one out. The score was 3-2, and if the game was to be a success, these base runners needed to be left stranded. So, Dice-K went to work, striking out Melvin Mora for out number two, and getting the ever dangerous Aubrey Huff to harmlessly pop out to Kevin Youkilis at third base.

The downside of his evening was that, by the end of the 5th inning, Dice-K had thrown over 100 pitches, and the coaching staff, with a playoff run just around the corner, felt it was time to sit him down. That meant turning four innings over to Boston's less than predictable bullpen. Thankfully, the bullpen held up their end of the game last night. Javier Lopez mopped up the 6th inning, Justin Masterson performed as advertised, taking control of the 7th and 8th innings, getting the Sox into the 9th.

Kevin YoukilisWith the score a comfortable 7-2, Terry Francona saw this as a perfect opportunity to give Jonathan Papelbon a rest, and turned the game over to Manny Delcarmen. Again, Manny looked good, but not great. He got out of the inning, and ended the game without allowing a run to score, but did get himself into a little jam letting two base runners reach. Thankfully, no damage was done.

The Red Sox, yet again, only managed to keep pace with the Tampa Bay Rays, who beat the Angels again last night. The Rays are not letting down at all, and right now, you'd have to say the Rays and the Angels are emerging as the top two teams in the AL. That's not to say things can't change over the next month, but right now those two teams are all alone on top.

And what of Josh Beckett? As I feared, his terrible outing on Sunday was related to a physical problem and was not just a bad day. Beckett has informed us that prior to the game, he was experiencing numbness in his pinkie and ring fingers of his pitching hand. That is certainly enough to throw off the precision needed by an elite major league pitcher. He felt the numbness must be related to sleeping awkwardly on his arm, or something like that. Unfortunately, 3 days later, the numbness has not yet gone away. Sounds to me like a pinched nerve somewhere.

So, Beckett will be skipping his next start to give him a couple of days to work through the issue. Let's hope it remains a minor issue, which is what it is being advertised right now. Tonight, we hand the car keys to Clay Buchholz to try for his first win since back in May. We are all behind you Clay. Let's see that form that earned you the amazing no hitter last year!

A final note. All our thoughts and prayers are with Red Sox legend, Carl Yastrzemski, as he recovers from successful triple bypass surgery performed just yesterday.


Suldog said...

Yaz was something else. And remains so after retirement. He was a hard worker, tremendous fielder, clutch hitter. After retiring, he stayed retired. That is, not only did he not attempt a comeback, he rarely ventured into the spotlight at all. I have great respect for that.

david mcmahon said...

Came her from Suldog. How about you come on over to watch Aussie Rules here in wintry Melbourne?

Rooster said...

Sul, I could not agree more! Well said!

Dave, I was always more of a rugby guy than an Aussie Rules guy (having lived in Sydney), but I sure would love to take you up on the offer.