Thursday, August 03, 2006

Matsuzaka Watch: Episode 17

Hello again. Matsuzaka Watch continues with the latest from our hero's Pacific League adventures. Last night, the ace started his 17th game against the rival Chiba Lotte Marines. Matsuzaka has already started 4 games against Bobby V.'s boys, including last night, and has enjoyed mixed results. Prior to the latest matchup he posted a complete game win, a 2/3 inning injury-shortened outing, and an 8.2 effort ending in a walk-off "sayonara" hit. How did he do this time around?

It was apparent early on that DM wasn't sharp. It took a lot of pitches to each batter to move through the early innings and most of the hard stuff missed its mark. Matsuzaka managed to work through 3 scoreless nonetheless, and his arsenal appeared to be sufficiently unhittable that his lack of control wasn't a factor. The ball stayed on the ground during those innings and 7 of the 9 outs were recorded on ground balls (one double play included). The other 2 outs were Ks.

In the 4th inning, WBC "Best 9" catcher Tomoya Satozaki led off the inning with a solo homer to knot the game at 1. The pitch was down in the zone, but centered and he got all he needed to capture his 13th home run of the year. No shame. That's going to happen against brand name hitters from time to time. Matsuzaka went on to record the next 3 outs, moving on.

The next inning looked much the same for Daisuke, as Lotte CF Saburo Omura delivered another lead-off solo shot to give his club a 2-1 lead. DM struck out the next two hitters, and got the final batter of the inning to fly weakly to center. He then proceeded to go 1-2-3, 1-2-3 in the 6th and 7th innings, hitting 100 pitches on the final pitch of the 6th.

The 8th inning was a bit sloppy as our hero went back to fastballs and sliders to start the inning. His late inning strength was his use of the changeup and curveball, with a few fireballs mixed in for good measure. Going primarily with the heater cost him the third Lotte run in the 8th, but the point was moot as the Lions could muster no more than a single 1st inning run against Hiroyuki Kobayashi of the Marines. Closer Masahide Kobayashi recorded his 30th save of the season and young Daisuke took the 3-1 loss, his 4th on the year and 2nd to Lotte.

Here are the updated statistics for Matsuzaka in 2006 (click to enlarge):

On final note. A lot of interest has been generated about Daisuke Matsuzaka in recent days. With an almost assured trip to the Majors in store for 2007, the heat is starting to pick up on this kid. Come back to us for your definitive look at this intriguing young player. David Srinivasan of The Talented Mr. Roto has linked to us in a blurb about the Seibu ace, and will be talking about him again perhaps as soon as this weekend. Thanks to David and the good folks at TTMR for supporting us. Until next time. Sayonara.


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