Matsuzaka Watch: Episode 15I'm back. My trip to the US was a lot of fun, but I'm happy to be back at the keyboard bringing you the latest in the annals of Daisuke Matsuzaka history. There are two performances to bring you today. One is an actual start for Seibu, and the other is an appearance in one of the 3 Japanese All-Star games featured at mid-season. Yes, there are 3.
Let's get down to business with Matsuzaka's July 8th start against the Chiba Lotte Marines. This was his 3rd start of the season against Lotte, going 9 innings of 1 run ball for his second win of the season, and the ill-fated two thirds of an inning he pitched on June 24th before leaving with an injury. In this up and down season against the Marines, young Daisuke found another way to make things interesting by pitching 8.2 innings of shutout baseball, before giving up the walk-off sayonara home run to Lotte rightfielder Matt Watson.
At one point Matsuzaka retired 19 straight batters, and looked every bit the dominating force he is. Unfortunately for our hero and the Seibu Lions, no run support was offered against Bobby V's talented bunch. A 1-0 loss was added to Daisuke's record, and a disappointment prior to the layoff.
On July 21st Matsuzaka got the start in the first All-Star game of the season in Japan. In the first inning he gave up a lead off infield single to Yakult Swallows outfielder Norichika Aoki, who was promptly erased on a double play ball off the bat of Yokohama Baystars outfielder Tatsuhiko Kinjoh. Yakult third baseman Akinori Iwamura then struck out. So far, so good, right? The second inning saw Hanshin Tigers outfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto draw a walk, and Seung Yeop Lee launch a run scoring double to the right-centerfield gap tying the game at 1 apiece. Matsuzaka settled down and got the next three batters to pop out weakly, ending his day at the ballpark. He clocked 95 on the gun during his brief appearance and didn't figure in the decision as the Pacific League dropped the game 3-1 to the Centrals.
One final note. It seems that the young Seibu ace is pushing for a move to the majors, and has begun to ready himself by tinkering with a two seam fastball that he recently unleashed at the World Baseball Classic and will use again against the Orix Buffaloes in his next start. NY Newsday reports that the Yankees have hired associate scout Shoichi Kida, formerly of Matsuzaka's alma mater Yokohama High School. He was senior to Matsuzaka at Yokohama, and actually played briefly for the Yakult Swallows after graduating. There will be a bidding war, and the Yankees will win at all costs. More when it comes in. Go get 'em Daisuke.