for this game

Matsuzaka's mastery powers Red Sox past Athletics

Apr 2, 2008 - 6:43 AM By Al Barba PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- Daisuke Matsuzaka had command problems in his season debut against the Oakland Athletics a week ago in his native Japan, but he found his rhythm in his first start on American soil.

After allowing a home run to Jack Cust to lead off the second inning, Matsuzaka was nearly perfect as he retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced, leading the Red Sox to a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.

Matsuzaka (1-0) allowed just the one run on two hits while striking out nine without issuing a single walk in 6 2/3 innings.

"I think it is important to vary my speeds and today I felt I had velocity on my harder stuff and my breaking balls were also good today," Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. "So, if I take this and carry it forward things will be good."

The performance was an improvement over his season-opening start a week ago, when he surrendered two runs and two hits in five innings while walking five and hitting another batter.

"He had good command of his cutter and his slider," Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek said. "He mixed in some curveballs, mixed in some changeups. He put himself - a lot of times - ahead in the count, and that enabled him to pitch to his strengths."

For the second time this season Matsuzaka was matched up against Joe Blanton (0-1), who allowed just two runs on seven hits over six innings. Oakland's righthander walked one and struck out two.

Blanton kept the Red Sox off the board until the fifth inning when Jacoby Ellsbury tied the score, 1-1, with a two-out single to right field, driving in Kevin Youkilis.

"We didn't swing the bat all that bad tonight," Youkilis said. "Daisuke threw the ball great. He commanded his pitches. He looked like he had a good feel for where his ball was going. It was a great outing for him and a great outing for us."

The Red Sox first baseman nearly was cut down at the plate as right fielder Jack Cust made a strong throw, but catcher Kurt Suzuki could not apply the tag in time.

Boston went on to load the bases in the inning, but Blanton worked out of trouble when David Ortiz grounded out to first base. Ortiz went 0-for-4 in the game and is hitless in 11 at-bats through three games this season.

Youkilis, who had three hits against Blanton, scored the go-ahead run in the sixth after tripling off the left field wall and coming across to score on a double to right field by Varitek.

"We hit some balls hard here and there," Youkilis said. "I battled that one at-bat (before hitting a triple) and hit that ball pretty well. It is very tough to hit here at night."

Varitek appeared to have hit a two-run home run, as the ball looked to have cleared the yellow line on the 15-foot high wall in right-center field. However, it was ruled a double by second base umpire Rob Drake.

After claiming the lead, Boston applied the formula that helped it win the World Series a year ago.

Set-up man Hideki Okajima relieved Matsuzaka in the seventh and worked a scoreless inning before giving way to Jonathan Papelbon, who recorded the final four outs for his second save in as many opportunities this season.

The A's managed just three hits against Red Sox pitching.

Suzuki had a leadoff single in the second inning and Bobby Crosby singled through the left side in the eighth. Boston pitching recorded 12 strikeouts in the game, including three by Papelbon, who fanned the side in the ninth.








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    BOSTON 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 2 9 0
    OAKLAND 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: BOS - DAISUKE MATSUZAKA, HIDEKI OKAJIMA (7TH), JONATHAN PAPELBON
    (8TH) AND JASON VARITEK
    OAK - JOE BLANTON, SANTIAGO CASILLA (7TH), KEITH FOULKE
    (9TH) AND KURT SUZ

    Apr 2 12:48 AM
  • 50
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Red Sox 2, Athletics 1  Top 9, 0 OutsApr 2 12:30 AM


  • AL
    AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY JASON VARITEK SCORED KEVIN YOUKILIS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J VARITEK ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: BOSTON 2
    OAKLAND 1 TOP, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: C CRISP (.200, 0-FOR-2)

    Red Sox 2, Athletics 1  Top 6, 0 OutsApr 1 11:43 PM


  • AL
    AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JACOBY ELLSBURY SCORED KEVIN YOUKILIS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J ELLSBURY ON FIRST, J LUGO ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: BOSTON 1
    OAKLAND 1 TOP, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR BOSTON: D PEDROIA (.200, 0-FOR-2)

    Red Sox 1, Athletics 1  Top 5, 0 OutsApr 1 11:22 PM


  • AL
    AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY JACK CUST (1) TO LEFT CENTER WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 2ND OFF DAISUKE MATSUZAKA.
    CURRENT SCORE: BOSTON 0, OAKLAND 1
    DUE UP FOR OAKLAND: E BROWN (.250, 1 HR, 4 RBI)

    Red Sox 0, Athletics 1  Bot 2, 0 OutsApr 1 10:37 PM
  • 15
    roots
    infectiologist Added 5 roots

    Red Sox vs. AthleticsApr 1 1:28 PM
  • 10
    roots
    lpickrell Added 5 roots

    Red Sox vs. AthleticsMar 31 10:49 PM
  • 5
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    shopgirl Added 5 roots

    Red Sox vs. AthleticsMar 30 2:44 PM