Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Matsuzaka Watch: Episode 6

Coming off his worst outing of the season against Orix, Daisuke Matsuzaka looked to rebound by dominating the Fukuoka Soft Bank Hawks. Easier said than done, as the Hawks are a very good ballclub managed by Oh Sadaharu and featuring several key members of the WBC champion team, including #4 hitter and former triple crown winner Nobuhiko Matsunaka. How would the world's most sought after pitcher fare? Try, very well. Seibu 7, Soft Bank 5.

The score makes this affair seem a lot closer than it actually was. The heavyweight matchup of Matsuzaka vs. Matsunaka manifested in the first run of the ballgame in the Soft Bank 3rd, as the cleanup man drove a ball into the right field stands to give his team a 1-0 lead. That was all she wrote for the Hawks as Matsuzaka cruised for a total of 107 pitches over 7 innings, giving up that lone run on 6 hits and 3 walks. The WHIP of 1.286 is a little high for his typical outing, but the baserunners were scattered fairly evenly over 7, with the only real trouble coming in a shaky 1st and a mildly interesting 7th. Other than that he was lights out.

But wait, you say. The final score was 7-5. That's a competitive ballgame. What happened? The Lions scored in 3 consecutive innings (6-7-8) on a series of walks and hits in the 6th, and home runs by Jeffrey Liefer in the 7th, and Kazuhiro Wada in the 8th. Soft Bank didn't go down easily though, as they answered with 4 runs in the top of the 9th inning against 3 different relievers. Closer, Chikara (Power) Onodera came in to nail down the last two outs for his 9th save, and earning Matsuzaka win #4. Phew. On the season, Daisuke has posted the following numbers (click below):


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