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Daisuke Matsuzaka DOMINATING

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Re: Daisuke Matsuzaka DOMINATING

Postby Matthias » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:38 pm

Sho Nuff wrote:
Secret Avatar wrote:Dice-K has been very good but too many walks (4 BB in 6.2 IP today). Hard to post ace numbers when you give that many free passes. So far the walks haven't burned him, but they will grind him down unless he gets them under control.

Agreed on the walks...and I was steaming at Francona to get him out of there before the 4th walk yesterday. Had already thrown over 100 pitches...I guess they thought he could quickly get the last out of the 6th. But damn...4 straight pitches and a walk.

I think he did quickly get the last out of the 6th after that batter. He then lasted two outs into the 7th.
0-3 to 4-3. Worst choke in the history of baseball. Enough said.
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Re: Daisuke Matsuzaka DOMINATING

Postby Marino's Isotoners » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:41 pm

Jackie MacMullan, Globe Columnist wrote:Amid the pageantry, and the rings, and Pie McKenzie and Bill Russell, and the Whitman's Sampler of Boston championship trophies, and the peeling back of layers upon layers of Red Sox banners, as if the home team were unveiling its version of a championship Vidalia onion, there was a baseball game at Fenway Park.

No disrespect to the creative minds of the Red Sox, who celebrated Opening Day and the team's 2007 World Series championship in fine style yesterday. It's just that this is the second time around, and you tend, in spite of yourself, to get mildly complacent with the concept.

How about that? We've grown accustomed to World Series championship events.

Yet there is something to be said for appreciating the comfort level of a second go-around. You need look no further than Boston's starting pitcher, Daisuke Matsuzaka, for proof.

Dice-K is no longer a major league rookie experiencing every facet of the American version of his lifelong pursuit for the first time. While the expectations from the mother country are still significant, he is clearly better equipped to handle the pressure, the attention, and the culture of his baseball home simply because he did it last season.

"I do think he'll be able to pitch more without handling things on the periphery, or things for the first time," said manager Terry Francona. "He doesn't have to answer questions about a place he's never been, or a baseball he's never used. So when he doesn't throw the ball the way he wants, it won't be because of a new culture."

For the second time in as many starts, Dice-K was in command. He threw 6 2/3 innings of shutout baseball and struck out seven in a 5-0 win. The closest thing to a blip was an anxious sixth inning when Placido Polanco looped a single to center field that a diving Coco Crisp nearly pocketed, and Gary Sheffield followed with what can only be characterized as an accidental infield hit.

That put two on with one out and set up the most significant sequence of the day: Matsuzaka against Magglio Ordonez. Dice-K worked Ordonez into a 1-and-2 hole by mixing his pitches and catching him with a check-swing foul ball. He then served up a fastball that Ordonez swung at and missed with a fair amount of gusto.

Strike three.

Asked to assess the pitcher, Ordonez offered, "He threw strikes."

When pressed to expound on Matsuzaka's improved command, Ordonez said, "I don't know about that, and I don't care. We have our own things to deal with."

Indeed they do. The Tigers, picked by many to be the next World Series champions, are off to an abysmal 0-7 start lowlighted by anemic hitting and atrocious fielding.

Their best chance at dinging Dice-K was in that sixth inning. After Ordonez whiffed, Matsuzaka walked Miguel Cabrera on four pitches, but after running the count to 3-and-1 on Carlos Guillen (one of the few Tigers who has been hitting this season), Dice-K gathered himself and coaxed him into a harmless fly ball to center field.

Not only did Boston's ace (he inherits the mantle while Josh Beckett finds his way back from back trouble) wiggle out of a jam, he looked positively serene doing so. The difference in his body language from situations like this last year was notable.

"Last year, those big innings seemed to crop up in late June to early August," said pitching coach John Farrell. "He had a tendency to want to rely on his velocity in those situations.

"Today he kept his composure. He still pitched, and was able to manipulate his fastball. He just looks more relaxed, instead of, 'OK, I'm in a jam. I'm going to fight my way through it.' "

This was Matsuzaka's third Opening Day of the young season, the first a no-decision at the Tokyo Dome in his native Japan March 25 in which he left trailing, 2-0. But Dice-K followed that outing with a gem in Oakland last week in which he gave up just 1 run, 2 hits, and struck out 9.

Farrell points to a variety of adjustments that have helped Matsuzaka in Year 2 in The Nation. He is throwing more two-seamers, a pitch he didn't even try until September. He is willing to pitch inside more to righties and is more apt to throw his changeup to batters (mostly lefthanders) that Farrell earmarks for him ahead of time.

"He's also not being so fine when he gets ahead in the count," Farrell reported. "We're hopeful he'll get into the seventh, eighth, and ninth inning a little more with a reasonable pitch count."

Yesterday Dice-K threw 108 pitches, 62 for strikes. He has gone five innings or more and given up two runs or fewer in all three of his starts. And in the last 13 1/3 innings, he has given up just one earned run.

Matsuzaka conceded yesterday was far less hectic than his first start at Fenway last year.

"Whether it was the loud ovation or the flashy welcome, there was a lot going on, so I might have been affected a little bit mentally," he confessed through his interpreter. "This time around, I felt I was able to approach the game just like a normal game and get into it very naturally."

Of course, it is too early to draw any grand conclusions about Dice-K, just as it would be were he 0-2 and struggling. But there's something comforting in the knowledge that your pitcher has spent a full season working with his veteran catcher, and that he won't get lost trying to find his way home from the park.

Matsuzaka was a bit too preoccupied with preparing for his start to receive his World Series ring along with his teammates in the elaborate pregame ceremony yesterday. At some point during his workday, someone slipped the finger bling into his locker. At first glance, Dice-K was heard remarking, "Kakkoo-ii," or, "So cool."

"I must say, it looked pretty good," he said.

So did the guy wearing it.

Jackie MacMullan is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at macmullan@globe.com.


Matsuzaka was brilliant, in every facet
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Re: Daisuke Matsuzaka DOMINATING

Postby jswede » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:52 pm

jury's still out for me. Pundits make a big deal of the "adjustments" he had to make coming into MLB last year, how it was all new to him etc, and now that he's got a year under his belt he'll do great. Well, he was all new to MLB hitters last year also -- a seasoned veteran with 5-6 pitches, at the top of his game, getting to pitch to a whole league that know zero about him. A huge advantage.. and he was barely a top 30 SP. Lost 12 games with the best offense in baseball behind him.

He may be more "comfortable" in the biggs than he was last year, but he's also not going to get to throw to line-up after line-up of guys who've never seen him before.

I think he'll get tagged up plenty as the year goes on.
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Re: Daisuke Matsuzaka DOMINATING

Postby MTUCache » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:50 pm

I'm honestly looking to sell hot right now.... It's not like I don't love the Wins and Strikeouts, but I'm not even close to sold on his ERA/WHIP right now.

Don't get me wrong, I'm more than happy to keep him for the time being, but I'm always looking to shop him for a pitcher who's going to be putting up 14/170/3.20/1.15, rather than hang onto his 16/200/3.50/1.30.

Don't know... maybe it's just me... way too many base-runners so far in his MLB career. Maybe he'll drop them dramatically this year, but it's going to take a lot more than two games to sell me.
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Re: Daisuke Matsuzaka DOMINATING

Postby Matthias » Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:58 am

It's still too early to draw any conclusions, but one thing that was notable last year was that Dice-K would give up about 85% of his runs in 15% of his innings. He would be cruising along, throwing a 3-hitter through 6, and then get someone onto base, and implode. Supposedly the pitching coach has worked with him over the offseason to get him to forget runners and focus on pitching. So it's possible this isn't a sell high case, but rather just him going to be really good.
0-3 to 4-3. Worst choke in the history of baseball. Enough said.
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Re: Daisuke Matsuzaka DOMINATING

Postby TomBrooklyn » Fri May 29, 2009 3:41 pm

So, what does everybody think of Dice-K now, a year later?

I took him as my second pitcher in the 10th round of the draft because he seemed to be the best pitcher available, and now I think I made a big mistake. (Since the first pitcher I took was Cliff Lee, I got a huge problem with pitching now.)
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