BOSTON Right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka made the fifth start on his current rehab assignment Tuesday night, going seven scoreless innings (plus two walks in the eighth), giving up one hit and four walks with seven strikeouts for Triple-A Pawtucket. He has been on the disabled list since July 3 with a right upper trapezius strain, his second DL stint this season after beginning the year there will recovering from Tommy John surgery in June 2010.Matsuzaka has made just five starts for the Red Sox this season, going 0-3 with a 6.65 ERA. In all, he has made 13 minor league rehab starts this season, posting a record of 1-4 with a 3.32 ERA. In five starts on his current assignment he is 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA.Where and when his next start will be remains to be determined.Its the first time I threw deep into a game in a while, Matsuzaka said before Tuesdays game at Fenway against the Angels, through translator Jeff Cutler, of his outing with Pawtucket on Tuesday. But my body feels fine today.After my last start down in Pawtucket, I told Bobby and pitching coach Randy Niemann that I was ready. But I haven't spoke to them yet this time around. So Ill be speaking to them soon and then I think a decision will be made then.Prior to that, Valentine met with the media. The reports he got on Matsuzaka's outing were positive.The reports were good, Valentine said. He threw the ball well, kept it down, had his location, mixed his pitches, came out of it all right, just a little sore calf is all I hear. If all the things that we were dealing with, he seemed to be OK.Matsuzaka said he is not concerned about the sore calf.Its not the first time thats happened to me, he said. So Im not worried about it at all.Matsuzaka said his trapezius muscle is definitely better now and this is the healthiest he has felt in a while.After I had the surgery, my body definitely feels better than it did before, which is a good thing, he said. But its definitely been stressful and frustrating at the same time to have to fight through all these injuries. But I think Im finally in a good place and Im looking forward to getting better and better every time I pitch.Matsuzaka is in the final season of a six-year, 52 million contract. (The Sox also had to a pay a 51.1 million posting fee.) He has appeared in 110 games (110 starts), posting a record of 49-33 with a 4.34 ERA. But in 50 games (49 starts) over the last four seasons, he has a record of just 16-18 with a 5.17 ERA.Asked if he would like to return to the Sox after this season, Matsuzaka replied:Ive really enjoyed my time in Boston and my family also has enjoyed our time here. So Id like to but its a little early to say where Im going to be or be talking about that. But no matter how long Im going to be here Id like to wear the Red Sox uniform with honor and play hard for the rest of the season and do what I can to contribute to the team.
BOSTON — Congratulations, Dave Dombrowski. It’s September, and you built a certified, top-notch bullpen.
Credit goes all around. The pitchers themselves receive the most, with the front office, John Farrell and the rest of the staff taking their slices as well.
But the success is particularly notable for an executive who perennially had terrible bullpens in Detroit. Dombrowski knows the reputation he garnered, too.
Maybe now he’ll start to shed it.
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The trouble in his old job wasn’t for lack of trying. Joe Nathan didn’t work out. Many folks didn’t.
“I think that there’s a few factors there,” Dombrowski said in 2016 of his bullpens in Detroit. “At one time we had (Jose) Valverde (from 2010-13 who) was the best closer for a couple years. (Joaquin) Benoit pitched very well as a set-up guy. We had a very solid bullpen at that point.
“We were unlucky a little bit in, for example, a guy like Joel Zumaya — who was a dominant guy, young — hurts his arm. Somebody you’re counting on. . . . Really (Bruce) Rondon never lived up to the early expectations. I know he’s still young, he’s doing better. So we got a little unlucky on those things. He got hurt too.”
So it goes. Per FanGraphs’ measurement of WAR, the Tigers had the worst bullpen in the majors from 2003-15, Dombrowski’s tenure.
The Sox’ bullpen is fifth in WAR this year, and second in ERA. Last year’s group was good, but not this good.
One of Dombrowski’s premier pick-ups in Boston, Addison Reed, has a common refrain when asked about his own pitching: he doesn’t change a thing.
When Reed got rocked in one of his early outings with the Red Sox, against the Yankees, he said he didn’t change. When he got in and out of trouble in the eighth inning Monday night in another extra-inning win for the Red Sox, 10-8 over the Orioles in 11, he said he didn’t change.
Same for Dombrowski, it would seem.
He continued to go after established relievers. There was the huge trade for Craig Kimbrel. Carson Smith took a while to contribute because of arm injuries, but he had the 11th-inning save Monday, and his velocity appeared to be creeping up.
The Tyler Thornburg situation was troubling, so Dombrowski went out and got Reed from the Mets.
Could Dombrowski have had success sooner if he had changed his approach? Well, maybe, but that’s a different argument.
It’s worked. He didn’t change a thing.
How cliche. But cliches, we should point out, have become a central theme in all these extra-inning wins for the Sox (they're 14-3). Grit, resiliency, determination — you run the risk of drowning on those words, even if they’re well deserved.
Those relievers, though. Both throughout the season and in these marathon games the Sox too often seek, the ‘pen has been unexpectedly excellent, with a rotating cast of characters.
“It’d be nice if we started winning those games in nine and not going extras,” Reed joked, with a presumed kernel of truth. “If it takes 19, 20 innings to get that win, we’ll take it.”
The roles for the postseason are still up in the air, which is strange for a ‘pen that’s been so successful. But at the same time, it suggest an equal distribution of success (and at times, challenges).
The bottom line: Dombo did it, with his relievers making him look smart.
BALTIMORE -- Roaring from behind and then finally winning in extra innings, the Boston Red Sox did more than merely maintain their lead in the A.L. East.
They showed their mettle, a characteristic that should come in handy during the postseason.
Xander Bogaerts homered and scored three runs for the Red Sox, who remained three games ahead of the second-place Yankees in the AL East and reduced to four their magic number for clinching a playoff berth.
Boston erased a five-run deficit with a six-run fifth inning and needed 10 pitchers to beat a skidding Orioles team that has now lost 10 of 12.
"This is a big one, being down early and coming back," Benintendi said. "Obviously it's a good win, but it's kind of a character win. Everybody contributed tonight."
After three walks - one intentional - off Miguel Castro (3-2) loaded the bases in the 11th, Benintendi hit a grounder past diving second baseman Jonathan Schoop to give Boston its major-league leading 14th extra-inning win against three defeats.
"That's one of the reasons we stand here today," manager John Farrell said.
"Our group has such grit, such determination, such competiveness," Farrell said. "There's no quit in them."
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia left in the fourth inning after being struck in the face by a foul ball he chopped off the plate. The team described the injury as a bruised nose and listed his availability as day to day.
It was the second freak injury Pedroia sustained at Camden Yards this season. On April 21, the All-Star was spiked on a late slide by Manny Machado, a play that created bad blood between the teams into May.
Baltimore built a 5-0 lead against Doug Fister over the first three innings, taking advantage of five walks and getting a two-run double from rookie Austin Hays.
After Betts hit an RBI double in the fourth, Adam Jones countered with a run-scoring single in the bottom half. But the 6-1 advantage vanished in the fifth under a torrent of six hits against Dylan Bundy and two Baltimore relievers.
The key blows in the six-run inning were a two-run double by Brock Holt - Pedroia's replacement - and a bases-loaded double by Betts that scored all three runners.
"It was just that one inning. I let things slip away from me," Bundy said. "I didn't really limit the damage very well, obviously. I was just leaving balls over the middle of the plate and they made me pay for them."
Pedro Alvarez homered in the bottom half and Tim Beckham put Baltimore back in front with a two-out RBI double .
"We find a way to build a big inning, we give it right back and then from that point on the bullpen is outstanding," Farrell said.
The see-saw leveled in the seventh when Bogaerts homered off Donnie Hart to make it 8-all.
BUNDY WILL CONTINUE
As the Orioles stagger to the end of the season, there's speculation that manager Buck Showalter might shut down Bundy, who's now at a career-high 169 2/3 innings.
"I don't think we're at that point yet," the manager said. "Stuff's fine, he feels great between starts, he's getting extra days rest."
Bundy said: "It's September. Everybody is tired right now. So, you've got to battle through it."
Red Sox: Betts was in the starting lineup despite hurting his thumb in two places Sunday. ... DH Hanley Ramirez (left arm soreness) did not start but appeared as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. ... 2B Eduardo Nunez will test his sore right knee running the bases Wednesday. Farrell said: "Wednesday will be a good test in terms of where he is at."
Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (16-5, 3.28 ERA) looks to keep his outstanding season going in his fourth start of the year against Baltimore. Pomeranz was 25-36 lifetime before this season.
Orioles: Kevin Gausman (11-10, 4.83 ERA) makes his 32nd start of the year, the fourth against Boston. He's 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA against the Red Sox in 2017.