Matsuzaka has second straight rough outing

191542.jpg

Matsuzaka has second straight rough outing

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - After his last outing, Daisuke Matsuzaka said he wasn't concerned about the results. He was working on a few things. Good thing, because the performance was far from his best.

He also said he would treat his next start as a regular-season start. And that's not so good.

Matsuzaka gave up five runs on five hits in 3 23 innings, with two walks and two strikeouts, in the Red Sox' 8-6 loss to the Rays. According to manager Terry Francona, the problems were familiar -- very familiar -- to any veteran Dice-K watcher.

"He started off, right off the bat, pitching behind in the count," said Francona. "Got himself in trouble, had to throwstrikes, and kind of paid the price for it. It was one of those outingswhere he made it harder than it's supposed to be."

For his part, Matsuzaka backed off his I'll-treat-this-game-as-a-regular-season-start talk and said that he once again was working on things.

"It's difficult to say in words how I performed today," he said through a team translator. "During practice I throw very good pitch in my delivery. However, the result is not following through during the game. At this point, the game is very important and the result is very important. . . . And I'm working on things during practice and didn't really follow through during the game. So, that's something I need to work on for the next time."

Matsuzaka started his outing by walking the first two Rays batters, including No. 2 hitter Johnny Damon on four pitches. After two more batters -- an Evan Longoria single and Matt Joyce sacrifice fly -- the Rays had a 2-0 lead.

But then he settled down a bit.

"The last couple hitters in the first inning and thentimes in the second inning, he threw the ball just like he's supposedto," said Francona. "And because of that, he gets outs."

With two outs in the second, however, he gave up a home run to John Jaso on a 1-and-2 pitch. And he opened the third by giving up consecutive doubles to Zobrist and Damon and a single to Joyce, putting the Sox in a 5-0 hole.

Of the 16 batters he faced, Matsuzaka induced just three groundball outs.

"He gave up some loud contact," said one scout in attendance. "He couldn't get anything down and he was pitching behind too much."

"He struggled with his command for most of his outing," said another scout. "He got behind the hitters too much and left too many pitches up in the zone that were flat."

In his last two outings, Matsuzaka has pitched a combined 6 23 innings, giving up 12 runs (10 earned) on 11 hits and four walks with three strikeouts and two home runs, facing 33 batters. Granted, it's a small sample size but that translates to a very unwelcome 13.49 ERA and 2.25 WHIP.

There were points in the game, though, when Francona was able to see improvements from Matsuzaka's last outing.

"At times today, when he threw the ball like he can, he was fine," Francona said. "But there were also times when he made it difficult to pitch successfully. He looks healthy. The ball's coming out of his hands good. But at times he didn't command very well."

Asked if he is concerned about his last two outings, Matsuzaka replied:

"At this point, I'm not too worried about it, but I feel it's not great."

Despite the results, he was able to find some positives in his outing.

"The catchers and pitching coach said there's a few good pitches and they pointed out about the few good pitches, such as slider and changeup getting better. But at this point, I'm not really satisfied with these pitches. I need to narrow the gap between how I pitch and what others expect.

"Now I see the clear difference between what is a good pitch and what is a bad pitch and more specifically the changeup is working very well. However, the cutter, that's something I need to work on more."

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Biggest Red Sox busts in recent memory

red-sox-rusney-castillo-022417x.jpg

Biggest Red Sox busts in recent memory

Click here for the complete gallery.

 

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

Farrell angered after Castillo fails to run out grounder

The Red Sox signed Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract bn August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.