Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Matsuzaka Watch: Episode 7

With the Hideki Matsui injury stealing headlines, I opted to wait on posting this update until Yankee fans had the opportunity to read my piece on Gojira before bumping it from the top spot on the blog.

Our hero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, took the mound against the world famous Tokyo Yomiuri Giants last night in an interleague game matchup. The Lions have struggled recently, dropping out of 1st place in the Pacific League, mainly due to poor pitching. Young Daisuke was sure to be the remedy for those ills. The Lions managed to win a close ballgame 3-1 with some late inning fireworks. Here's the lowdown:

In the Giants half of the first inning, Matsuzaka started sluggishly. Walking left fielder Takayuki Shimizu and then allowing a single to right fielder, and former Lion, Tatsuya Ozeki. Still no one out. After a strikeout of infielder Tomohiro Nioka, the Lions' ace gave up his first run on a single by "The Lion King" Lee Seung Yeop. 1-0 Giants. That's all the Giants would get for the remainder of the ballgame, as Matsuzaka cruised to a complete game, using only 106 pitches to strikeout 7, with 5 hits, no walks, and just the single run on the board.

The win didn't come without the pressure of holding it close. The Lions didn't manage to mount an attack until they batted in the 8th inning. With a runner on and two outs, the Seibu club strung together 3 consecutive hits, culminating in a game winning, 2-run double off the bat of Alex Cabrera. Cabrera is now hitting .345 with 9 home runs on the young season and saved a big moment for Matsuzaka's outing in Tokyo. More great pitching for Japan's best player. Here's his updated numbers on the year (click below):

Matsuzaka has allowed one earned run in every start this season, with the exception of the blip two weeks ago against Orix when he gave up 4. His ERA is a ridiculous 1.75 and he sports a WHIP of 1.013 making things very difficult on opposing hitters. His pitch count has been extremely managable recently which bodes well for success in the long marathon that is a professional baseball season. Check back next week for his next outing.


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