Cook struggles with Red Sox while Matsuzaka rolls in Pawtucket

Cook struggles with Red Sox while Matsuzaka rolls in Pawtucket
August 22, 2012, 4:14 am
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BOSTON Whats next for Aaron Cook?

The right-hander took the lost Tuesday, as the Red Sox fell to the Angels, 5-3, in first game of the three-game series at Fenway Park. Cook went five innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on a season-high 11 hits, including a two-run home run, and a walk, with a season-high four-strikeouts. His record fell to 3-7 while his ERA rose to 4.79.

His sinker appeared to be working early, as Cook induced four groundball outs in the first two innings. But the Angels soon got to Cook.

The Angels got a run in the third when Mike Trout hit a one-out single to center, taking second on right-hander Cooks errant pick-off attempt. With two outs, Trout scored on Albert Pujols single to center.

In the fourth, the Angels sent seven batters to the plate with five reaching base on consecutive hits, all singles. After Mike Trumbo struck out to open the inning, Howie Kendrick singled to right and Alberto Callaspo singled to left. Kendrick scored on Erick Aybars single to right, with Aybar thrown out trying to stretch a double. Chris Iannettas single to shortstop scored Callaspo. Trout singled before Hunter hit into a fielders choice.

The Angels added two runs in the fifth when Trumbos 30th home run of the season cleared the left field wall, scoring Kendrys Morales who had singled to center.

Cook threw 85 pitches, 55 for strikes.

Cookie had his groundball going again, Valentine said. We were hoping for one more there, instead it turned into a two-run homer. He had about, I dont know, counting the outs and the hits, probably 20 groundballs. Had his sinker working. It just wasnt placed well early in the game and the two-run homer kind of did him in.

I felt really good, said Cook. I felt like I was making pitches. They were just finding holes with those singles. Being a sinkerball pitcher, you kind of live off whether or not they hit the hole or hit it at your infielders. And they were able to string together a few of those in the holes. And then I left one pitch up on a 3-2 count to Trumbo and he hit it about as hard as you can hit a baseball.

They got a really tough lineup. The thing that I think we try to do is not worry about the whole lineup at one time, realizing that youre only going to face on person at a time and you got to attack that person, do everything you can to get them out and then worry about the next guy. Tonight I wish it would have turned out different but again I felt like I was making pitches and they were just finding some holes.

Cook was likely the closest pitcher on the Red Sox staff to Bob McClure, who was fired Monday. The two go back to their time together with the Rockies, who drafted Cook in the second round in 1997.

It was difficult, Cook said of McClures dismissal. Hes a guy that I have a reallong history with. Hes the one individual I probably give the most credit for helping me make it to the big leagues. So it was kind of tough but the organization made a decision. Were going to move on and come back and continue to work with new pitching coach Randy Niemann, who was promoted from assistant pitching coach. Nemo knows these pitchers just as well as Mac did. Its a new page.

Now, its up to Valentine and Niemann to determine Cooks role. The Red Sox are 4-7 in his starts this season. But in his last eight starts since July 4, Cook is just 1-6 with a 6.35 ERA.

Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has been on the disabled list since July 3 with a right trapezius strain, made his fifth rehab appearance Tuesday night for Triple-A Pawtucket. He went seven scoreless innings (plus two batters in the eighth), giving up just one hit and four walks with seven strikeouts. In his current rehab assignment, which began July 30 with Pawtucket, he is 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA. Overall, he is 1-4 with a 3.32 ERA in 13 rehab starts this season, after beginning the year on the DL recovering from Tommy John surgery. He has made five major league starts, going 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA.

Both Cook and Matsuzaka would be scheduled to pitch next on Sunday. Which of the right-handers will be starting at Fenway against the Royals remains to be seen.

Much too early to figure that one out, Valentine said. Well see, watch the film, see Dice tomorrow, see how he feels. and talk it over with everyone.

Cook said he is not concerned about that decision.

Nope, not one bit, he said. Its not my decision. Im just going to take the ball and throw when they tell me. Whatever happens happens.