Dice-K: Isn't he ironic?

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Dice-K: Isn't he ironic?

Back in 1996, Alanis Morissette released Ironic, a song about things that were in no way ironic. Here in 2012, Im going to write a blog post about Daisuke Matsuzaka . . . Isnt that ironic?

Isnt it ironic that yesterday at Fenway, Dice-K made one of his best starts in four years (seven innings, no earned runs, six Ks, two walks, 101 pitches, less than six hours); two days after the Red Sox threw in the towel?

Isnt it ironic that the victory was the 50th of Dice-Ks career, meaning that his win total has yet to equal the millions (51) that the Sox paid just to negotiate with him back in 2006?

Isnt it ironic that Dice-Ks first and 50th wins both came against the Royals?

Isn't it ironic that after winning 18 games in 2008, Dice-K has a total of 17 in the four seasons since?

Isnt it ironic that when asked about his impending free agency after yesterday's game, Matsuzaka said: I'm not really thinking about that at all. Right now, I'm more focused on the playoffs?

Answers: No. None of it's ironic, but it's all frustrating as hell, and another reminder of what a colossal bust Matsuzaka has been in Boston.

Of course, it's not all his fault.

The Sox still deserve a lot of blame for royally screwing with Dice-K's routine.

Think of it this way: Imagine Rory Mcllroy shocks the world this afternoon and announces that he's signed an exclusive six-year50M contract to play on the Japan Golf Tour (and that the tour had to pay the PGA another 50M just to negotiate). And let's say that upon arriving in Japan, Mclleroy's training regiment doesn't sit well with the JGT. They tell him: "Listen, Rory. You need to scale it back. We have a lot invested in you, and our research shows that if you keep training like this, your body will break down."

Now let's say that Rory listens, and doesn't train as hard has he did on the PGA and European Tours. Wouldn't you expect his performance to suffer? And if it did and in turn, Rory was blasted in the media, booed by fans and ridiculed by an entire country wouldn't he have a legitimate beef with the tour?

And then, on top of that, what if the lack of training weakens Rory's overall strength and he ends up breaking down anyway? What then? Can you imagine how much he would and should resent the JGT?

It's the same thing with Dice-K and the Sox. On one hand, you understand why they'd wanted to protect their investment, but at the same time, it's not like they signed him to a 10-year deal. It was six years, and he was still young. In retrospect, they should have just left him to maintain the same approach and mindset that made Japan's most dominant pitcher.

But hey, what can you do? What's done is done.

As is, just about, Dice-K's time in Boston.

Anyway, I was feeling nostalgic after yesterday's performance and hopped on YouTube to see if I could find any good Matsuzaka material. Of course, finding a good baseball video on YouTube is harder than finding a minority at Augusta, but that didn't stop me from trying . . . and finding two that pretty much sum up Dice-K's Sox career. The first is a video of Matsuzaka warming up in the bullpen before his first career start at Fenway (April 11, 2007). Listen to the buzz around the Park as he's introduced over the PA. Feel the excitement. I'm not exaggerating when I say this video gave me chills.

By comparison, here's the ovation when he was introduced before his first Fenway start of this season June 9, against the Nationals, after more than a year away from the team.

Wah wah.

You know, those two videos are pretty much a microcosm for the state of the Red Sox in general in 2007 and 2012. It's backwards. It's depressing. More than anything, it's just so damn ironic.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

BOSTON -- New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, left-handed hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike three — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.

Red Sox tie strikeout record in completing sweep of Rangers, 6-2

Red Sox tie strikeout record in completing sweep of Rangers, 6-2

BOSTON (AP) There's something about Boston Red Sox pitchers and 20-strikeout games.

There have been six major-league games with that many strikeouts and the Red Sox made the list for the third time, fanning that many Texas Rangers for a 6-2 victory Thursday night and a sweep of the three-game series.

Five Boston pitchers combined on the 20 strikeouts with starter Drew Pomeranz getting 11 in six innings and closer Craig Kimbrel getting four in the ninth when the leadoff batter reached on a wild pitch strike three. Boston's Roger Clemens twice reached 20 strikeouts by himself.

"His stuff is nasty. What he is doing right now I have never seen anything like that," Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes said of Kimbrel.

Kimbrel has retired 53 of the last 56 batters he has faced and right-handed hitters are on an 0-for-41 streak.

Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero hit their first home runs of the season helping Boston to its fourth straight win.

"A lot has been made about our home run totals or lack thereof," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Tonight was the first of what should be many more."

Pomeranz (4-3), who tied his career high with the 11 strikeouts, made it as far as six innings for the third time this season and beat Texas for the first time in nine career outings.

"Felt lost for a couple of starts and wasn't satisfied," said Pomeranz, who gave up four hits and walked one. "Tonight I felt more like last year."

Elvis Andrus homered and Nomar Mazara had two hits and an RBI for Texas, which has lost four of five overall and 15 of 21 on the road.

"The sweep is surprising," Andrus said. "But that's the beauty of baseball, I guess. You cannot take any team for granted. Even when you feel you're playing at your best, stuff like this can happen."

Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland had RBI singles in the first inning as Boston got to Rangers starter Nick Martinez (1-3) early.

Bogaerts hit a two-run homer in the third to put Boston ahead 4-0. Despite finishing with 21 home runs last year, Bogaerts needed 46 games to connect for the first time this season.

"Good to get one over the wall and get it out of the way," Bogaerts said.

Mike Napoli struck out four times while Pete Kozma and Andrus went down three times each. Every Ranger starter struck out at least once.

"Pomeranz was throwing well," Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "Obviously their bullpen came in and threw well also and they played better than we did overall tonight."

Marrero homered in the eighth off Alex Claudio.

Martinez gave up four runs in five innings and is winless in four starts against Boston with a 6.46 ERA.

Andrus cut Boston's lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning with the homer, snapping an 0-for-9 drought.

Moreland tied his career high by driving in at least one run for the sixth straight game and extended his hitting streak to seven games, batting .393 in that stretch.

Boston swept Texas for the first time at Fenway Park since 2008. Since 2009, Texas has the best winning percentage at Fenway Park in the major leagues at .600.

STRIKING SUCCESS

Pomeranz recorded his 500th career strikeout when he whiffed Napoli for the final out of the fourth inning, his eighth of the game.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre will play in extended spring training games in Arizona the next three days after being sidelined all season with a calf strain.

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia was removed from the game after five innings for precautionary reasons due to left knee pain. He is listed as day to day. ... LHP David Price will make his season debut Monday in Chicago against the White Sox despite surrendering six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings over his last two rehab starts. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval is 3 for 13 in four rehab games.

UP NEXT:

Rangers: Will send RHP A.J. Griffin (4-1) in the opener at Toronto.

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (3-1) looks to win his fourth straight decision when they entertain Seattle on Friday.