After a fairly long stint of happiness– the Red Sox are back firmly in the cellar after a 4-2 loss yesterday, and now stand at just 29-30 this season. Yesterday was the (somewhat) long anticipated debut of Daisuke Matsuzaka– better known as Dice-K. Matsuzaka did not pitch poorly in his first start back from Tommy John Surgery a year ago, but he couldn’t stay away from one big inning. In that inning, the fourth, the Nationals were able to score three runs and take a 4-0 lead after an RBI double by Michael Morse and a two-run single by Ian Desmond. The Nationals first scored on a solo home run by Adam LaRoche in the second inning.
Other than that fourth inning, however, Dice-K was quite good. All of his pitches moved effectively– including what the Nationals’ announcers thought to be a gyroball to Steve Lombardozzi. He did strike out eight in his five innings of work and only walked one– which was impressive considering that the old Dice-K’s K:BB ratio may have been reversed. Dice-K’s final stat line doesn’t really show how well he pitched, but it absolutely showed how well Gio Gonzalez pitched. Gonzalez flat out dominated the Red Sox– striking out 5 over 6.2 innings that saw him allow 3 hits and 2 runs. However, those runs that scored were inherited by the bullpen– so he didn’t really allow them, illustrating how dominant he was.
Those runs I just mentioned were scored in the seventh inning, when the Red Sox loaded the bases with one out. With Kelly Shoppach due up, manager Bobby Valentine did the smart thing and brought Jarrod Saltalamacchia in to pinch hit. Salty was turned around to face a lefty (he was only 4-24 off of lefties this year), but on the first pitch he lined the ball off the green monster. That would score two runs and set the Red Sox up for more with runners at the corners and one out. The Red Sox would strand them, unfortunately, as Daniel Nava struck out looking on a generous third strike and Dustin Pedroia popped out to end the first.
Perhaps one of few positives to take away from this game was the impressive work by the Boston bullpen. In a mop-up role, Franklin Morales was fantastic in working three perfect innings and striking out three. After Morales was finished, Alfredo Aceves came in and struck out two in a perfect inning. That stellar relief work would be all for naught, however, as the Red Sox continued to struggle scoring against the Nationals. They would lose the game as a 4-2 disappointment and will hope to avoid the sweep today.