Daisuke douses Red Sox chances

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Daisuke douses Red Sox chances

BOSTON -- Daisuke Matsuzaka's first start back from the disabled list was rock solid. His next two haven't been quite as good.

Matsuzaka picked up his second straight loss on Saturday night at a rainy Fenway Park. He went only an inning-and-a-third, while allowing five runs on five hits, a walk, and a home run.

And after the Red Sox' 9-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, manager Bobby Valentine expressed his frustration with the starting rotation not even giving them a shot.

"It's tiring," said Valentine after the loss. "Guys are tired of playing from behind, I'll guarantee you that. The bullpen's tired just eating up innings. It's tough."

Matsuzaka was just another one of Boston's starters that spotted the other team points, on Saturday night.

And all the damage took place in the second inning, beginning with a Yunel Escobar solo shot into the Monster seats on the first pitch of the inning. Then, Matsuzaka allowed a Kelly Johnson single, he hit J.P. Arencibia with a pitch, and allowed an Adeiny Hechavarria RBI double that took a high hop over the head of Red Sox third baseman Pedro Ciriaco, giving the Blue Jays an early 2-0 lead with no outs in the second inning.

The mound visit that ensued didn't matter much. Because Matsuzaka allowed a two-run single up the middle by Anthony Gose that scored two more runs in the very next at-bat.

Gose then stole second, and advanced to third on a Ryan Lavarnway throw that found its way into left field after hitting a diving Gose.

Gose then made it 5-0 by scoring on a Rajai Davis RBI sacrifice fly. Colby Rasmus' single in the next at-bat ended Matsuzaka's night.

"He had a good first inning, and the first pitch of the second inning goes over the fence," said Valentine. "After that, he made decent pitches. The changeup and the base-hit up the middle by Lind, that's a pretty good pitch. And the high-hopper over the third baseman, if they weren't expecting so much rain, it probably would have been softer in front of the play. If, if, if. But, he didn't pitch well enough."

Afterwards, Matsuzaka was left searching for answers.

"It's really disappointing that I haven't been able to be there for the team and help out the team the past two games," said Matsuzaka. "It's really stressful, and it's really stressful that I haven't been able to be consistent, whenever I go out there. It's been a struggle every day in between starts.

"My main focus out there is to focus on the batters and do what I need to do, but there's something that I just can't figure out and just can't get right, which has been the hardest part. It's just been a struggle, trying to put my fingers on that."

He also said that it has nothing to do with his impending free agency.

"Honestly, I don't know whether I'll be wearing this Red Sox uniform next year, but, as I've said before, it's an honor to be able to wear this Red Sox uniform," said Matsuzaka. "But it hasn't been an added stress for me."

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.