Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Matsuzaka Watch: Episode 9

You can't stop him. But he can sure stop you. The Daisuke Matsuzaka Express is blazing through Japan on its way to New York. At least that's what I'm hoping for. There are a handful of Angels fans that read my posts that would tend to disagree, but I find it hard to imagine that anyone will outbid the Yankees when it comes to negotiating with Seibu. It may be obscene, but that's the world we live in these days.

Matsuzaka is coming off a poor outing against the lowly Yokohama Bay Stars, and it figured that he would come out guns blazing versus the Hanshin Tigers of Osaka. The Tigers, like the Yomiuri Giants, are a traditional franchise here in Japan and have a following not dissimilar to Red Sox Nation. They are usually good, but rarely good enough in the end. Their cheering section is legendary for its spirit and vibrant chants. There must have been little to cheer about as young Daisuke mowed down Tigers' hitters like blades of grass....as if that matters to the Hanshin Crazies.

Through 4 innings, the Seibu ace gave up 1 walk, no hits, and 6 strikeouts. He was truly dominant from the start. The 5th inning started as something of an adventure as Hanshin opened with a single and a double to put Matsuzaka in trouble. What do All-World pitchers do when the have runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out in a close game? They strike out the next 3 batters. That brought his strikeout total to 9. In this contest, Daisuke went 1-2-3 in every inning but the 5th and 7th, when he gave up his only other hit. His final line was a complete game shutout featuring 3 hits, one walk and a ridiculous 14 strikeouts. His teammates gave him just enough run support to earn his 7th victory in 9 tries, triumphing 3-0.

His ERA now stands at 2.01 with a WHIP of 1.040, which in my book means he's a bad ass. Here's the full stat line (click below):


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