Matsuzaka hammered in short-lived start


Matsuzaka hammered in short-lived start

By MaureenMullen

BOSTON For everything Josh Beckett delivered Sunday night against the Yankees, Daisuke Matsuzaka may have undone it all in two disastrous innings Monday against the reeling Rays, who entered Fenway Park with the worst record in baseball.

Matsuzaka lasted just two innings (plus two batters in the third), giving up seven runs on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts and two home runs as the Rays pummeled the Red Sox, 16-5.

Yeah, show up early and youre excited for the game and by the second inning and youre kind of in survival mode, manager Terry Francona said. Thats a tough night.

Matsuzaka fell to 0-2, while his ERA more than doubled from 5.40 to 12.86. It was his shortest outing since lasting just one inning against the As on April 14, 2009,
in Oakland. He was put on the disabled list the day after that outing. This time around, however, both Matsuzaka and Francona assured reporters that the pitcher is healthy.

With the loss, Matsuzaka extended his career-high winless streak to seven starts, dating back to Sept. 7, 2010 against the Rays. In that stretch he is 0-4 (7.54).

The Rays entered the game hitting just .163 as a team. After pounding out 20 hits on Sox pitchers, they raised their team average to .201.

Matsuzaka has had limited success in his career against Tampa Bay. He's now 2-7 lifetime versus the Rays, with a 5.83 ERA.

To make it worse, Matsuzaka was facing a team that entered the game with a 1-8 record and had scored 11 runs in those 8 losses. Matsuzaka, however, surrendered seven runs in the first two innings.

In the first, he gave up a one-out, first-pitch solo homer to Johnny Damon before retiring the next two batters. In the second inning, though, the Rays sent 10 batters to the plate, with six scoring. The first seven eached base safely on six hits and a walk, including Sam Fulds two-run homer.

He came out in the first inning and threw a lot of strikes, Francona said. I know Damon hit the first-pitch fastball for a home run, but it looked like Matsuzaka was trying to establish fastball and breaking ball and he pumped strikes.

"And then we got into the second and everything went to the middle of the plate. There was one walk, but there was seven balls hit right on the barrel . . . We love when guys throw strikes, but there were balls that were middle-middle in the first seven hitters.

The timing of Matsuzakas stinker could not have been much worse. After taking two of three from the Yankees over the weekend, their first wins of the season, the Red Sox appeared to be riding high after Becketts gem Sunday night, shutting New York down on 10 strikeouts and two hits in eight innings. It should have been the kind of game that could generate some much-needed confidence and momentum.

How many times do you hear people say, Your momentum goes as far as your next day starter? And its true, Francona said. We felt great. Beckett pitched about as good a game as youre going to see. And were into the second inning and were swimming upstream. Thats a hard way to put anything together.

Matsuzaka had little explanation for his dismal performance.

Sunday Josh showed the great pitches and I wanted to bring the great flow to the team and throw todays game, he said through a team interpreter. But as you can see the result didnt follow through and I feel sorry for the team as well as the fans.

Based on the previous outing, previous experience, I wanted to go aggressive to pound the strike zone. However, my pitches came into the middle of the zone, and also I didnt have enough life to get the batters out.

It wasnt for a lack of mixing up his pitches, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said.

I was happy with him mixing the pitches up, Saltalamacchia said. He didnt just sit on one pitch. A couple of them were up over the plate that they were able to put some hits together. The other night we did the same thing and they could foul stuff and miss. So we just have to erase this one.

We used everything in the second inning. A couple changeups we left up and they were able to hit well. But he kept battling.

Not for long, though. Matsuzaka exited with no outs and two runners on in the third inning, the Sox trailing 7-0. The boos rained down on him.

Nobody really wants to get a booing from the fans, he said. And only way that I can change this is to show the good result in front of fans.

Matsuzaka was still in uniform when he met with the media after the game, despite exiting nearly three hours earlier. He had been studying video in the interim.

I watched a video after the game and I noticed theres a clear difference between when I pitch well and Im bad, he said. So theres something to fix for this part of it.

While that may offer a measure of encouragement for his next outing, it gives little consolation for this one.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night


Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which David Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

BOSTON —  The Red Sox have become well known for their ceremonies, for their pull-out-all-the-stops approach to pomp. The retirement of David Ortiz’s No. 34 on Friday evening was in one way, then, typical.

A red banner covered up Ortiz’s No. 34 in right field, on the facade of the grandstand, until it was dropped down as Ortiz, his family, Red Sox ownership and others who have been immortalized in Fenway lore looked on. Carl Yazstremski and Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Pedro Martinez. 

The half-hour long tribute further guaranteed permanence to a baseball icon whose permanence in the city and the sport was never in doubt. But the moments that made Friday actually feel special, rather than expected, were stripped down and quick. 

Dustin Pedroia’s not one to belabor many points, never been the most effusive guy around. (He’d probably do well on a newspaper deadline.) The second baseman spoke right before Ortiz took to the podium behind the mound.

“We want to thank you for not the clutch hits, the 500 home runs, we want to thank you for how you made us feel and it’s love,” Pedroia said, with No. 34 painted into both on-deck circles and cut into the grass in center field. “And you’re not our teammate, you’re not our friend, you’re our family. … Thank you, we love you.”

Those words were enough for Ortiz to have tears in his eyes.

“Little guy made me cry,” Ortiz said, wiping his hands across his face. “I feel so grateful. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to have the career that I have. But I thank God even more for giving me the family and what I came from, who teach me how to try to do everything the right way. Nothing — not money — nothing is better than socializing with the people that are around you, get familiar with, show them love, every single day. It’s honor to get to see my number …. I remember hitting batting practice on this field, I always was trying to hit those numbers.”

Now that’s a poignant image for a left-handed slugger at Fenway Park.

He did it once, he said — hit the numbers. He wasn’t sure when. Somewhere in 2011-13, he estimated — but he said he hit Bobby Doerr’s No. 1.

“It was a good day to hit during batting practice,” Ortiz remembered afterward in a press conference. “But to be honest with you, I never thought I’d have a chance to hit the ball out there. It’s pretty far. My comment based on those numbers was, like, I started just getting behind the history of this organization. Those guys, those numbers have a lot of good baseball in them. It takes special people to do special things and at the end of the day have their number retired up there, so that happening to me today, it’s a super honor to be up there, hanging with those guys.”

The day was all about his number, ultimately, and his number took inspiration from the late Kirby Puckett. Ortiz’s major league career began with the Twins in 1997. Puckett passed away in 2006, but the Red Sox brought his children to Fenway Park. They did not speak at the podium or throw a ceremonial first pitch, but their presence likely meant more than, say, Jason Varitek’s or Tim Wakefield’s.

“Oh man, that was very emotional,” Ortiz said. “I’m not going to lie to you, like, when I saw them coming toward me, I thought about Kirby. A lot. That was my man, you know. It was super nice to see his kids. Because I remember, when they were little guys, little kids. Once I got to join the Minnesota Twins, Kirby was already working in the front office. So they were, they used to come in and out. I used to get to see them. But their dad was a very special person for me and that’s why you saw me carry the No. 34 when I got here. It was very special to get to see them, to get kind of connected with Kirby somehow someway.”

Ortiz’s place in the row of 11 retired numbers comes in between Boggs’ No. 26 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.