BOSTON Before the series finale against the Marlins, manager Bobby Valentine was asked what he would like to see from Daisuke Matsuzaka in his third start since returning from Tommy John surgery.Id like him to participate in a winning performance, Valentine said. That would be a good thing. Hes feeling better. Id like him to get through that first inning clean, also. Both of those things would be nice to see.Valentine got neither from Matsuzaka. Despite that, the Red Sox did manage a 6-5 win and a three-game sweep of the Marlins.In a first inning that took 30 minutes, Matsuzaka faced seven batters, with three scoring, as he allowed three hits and a walk, with three stolen bases and a strikeout. He threw 33 pitches, 19 for strikes, a less-than-ideal 58 percent strike rate.Matsuzaka gave up a lead-off single to Jose Reyes before getting Hanley Ramirez to ground out to Mike Aviles at shortstop. He then walked Giancarlo Stanton, who stole second with Logan Morrison batting. Matsuzaka struck out Morrison, looking at 93-mph fastball, but with two outs, he allowed a two-run single to Greg Dobbs, scoring Reyes and Stanton. Dobbs stole second then scored on Omar Infantes single to center. With Scott Cousins batting, Dobbs stole second. Matsuzaka got Cousins to fly out to Ryan Kalish to end the inning.In typically confounding Matsuzaka fashion, the right-hander rebounded. Including Cousins as the last out of the first inning, Matsuzaka retired 14 batters in a row, with three strikeouts in that span, getting him into the sixth inning with one out.Meanwhile, Sox batters got to Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano for two runs in the fourth and another in the fifth to tie the game.Matsuzaka got through five innings on 90 pitches, 63 of which were strikes. Matsuzakas season high was 93 pitches in six innings in his last outing, June 15 in Chicago. But he returned for the sixth inning, with the score tied, 3-3, and with right-handed hitters Ramirez and Stanton due up. Morrison, a lefty, would be next. So Sox lefty Andrew Miller was warming up to start the inning.Matsuzaka got Ramirez to ground out to Will Middlebrooks to open the sixth. But with apologies to Dustin Pedroia here Stanton blistered a laser beam into the first stairwell in the left field Monster seats.Matsuzakas outing was done.There were a couple of things said after the first inning and he was also very, very hot, Valentine said after the game, which had a 92 degree temperature at first pitch.We wanted to bring a towel rather than a messenger. He didn't adjust well to all that sweating. After that he was near perfect and hung one ball to Stanton, and increased his velocity, threw more strikes, worked quicker, did everything that we wanted him to do.Matsuzaka, who is still in search of his 50th career win, saw his ERA go from 5.73 to 6.06 with the outing. Although he left with the Sox trailing by a run, the Sox offense pulled out the late-innings win.Honestly, I think Dice did awesome, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He battled. He got to the second, third and got two big outs for us. And then Dobbs, hes a professional hitter, been doing it for years. We tried to go cutter in off the plate a little bit and got too much of the plate and he was able to do something with it. But he did a great job with Logan whos been, we cant miss his barrel this whole series. That was a big out for us. Almost got out of it. After that Dice just went back to what he does best. Just mixing his pitches, making them a little off balance and making good pitches.For Stanton, it was his 15th home run of the season, first since June 7 against the Braves.Matsuzaka was a little shaky in the first inning, Stanton said. Besides that, he did a great job. He was working in and out and using all his pitches. He had our timing a little off.
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.
Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis hit three-run homers and left-hander Brian Johnson started and pitched two scoreless innings to help the Red Sox win their spring training opener, 9-6, over Northeastern University on Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla.
Johnson, who made one spot start in his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2015 but then was derailed by injuries and anxiety issues last season, struck out three and walked one Thursday. He's expected to start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts in 2016.
Moreland, the left-handed hitting first baseman signed to a one-year deal after spending his first seven seasons with the Texas Rangers, and Travis, a right-handed hitting first base prospect coming back from knee surgery last season, each hit three-run homers in a six-run third inning.
Pablo Sandoval, attempting to reclaim the third-base job after missing nearly all of last season after surgery on his left shoulder, went 1-for-2 with a double.
The Red Sox open Grapefruit League play Friday afternoon when they host the New York Mets at JetBlue Park.