Walk This WayThe walk. It'll kill you. There is no more damaging part of the game for a team than the issued walk. You may say the home run is more damaging, except that a home run can occur on the first pitch of an at bat. Yes, it puts a run on the board, so there's an argument, but the walk can become something that spirals out of control. You throw more pitches. You lose the plate. You work out of the stretch. You make your teammates sit back on their heels waiting for something to happen. You get more and more tired, giving each successive batter a better chance at a mistake that will cost you more than a single run. Oh, the walk.
The base on balls has been Matsuzaka's cement collar this season. The rest of his game is getting better and better and you can see that he is All World under the mysterious control issues. He strikes out some of the game's best players multiple times in a game and he sometimes makes them look foolish in doing so. The game of baseball is also very fickle. Consider Matsuzaka's last 2 starts:
Looking more closely at the ratios for those performances you see that Daisuke has put up:
The high pitch counts and the struggles he has in certain innings come from the walks. Everything negative in his pitching line comes from walking batters. 11.77 K/9 is nuts. (It's also one of the factors that helps him escape from tough spots he creates.) On the season, Matsuzaka has an 8.92 K/9 ratio, which is outstanding. The ability is there. The control is not. That said, you have to win a game in which your starter gives you a "quality start". 6 innings and 2 runs is a winnable game, but the Sox offense has stayed behind in Boston as the team has played out West. On the West Coast swing, the Sox scored 22 runs in 7 games, which is 3.14 runs per contest. That isn't winning baseball. That's pi. If you take out the big 10-3 win against Arizona in the first game of the current series, you have 12 runs in 6 games, which is easily calculated to a measly 2 runs per outing. Ouch.
Maybe the travel day will reunite the Sox with their luggage...er....offense and the team can get the bats back together. The Yankees are only a razor thin 9.5 back now. Uh....yeah. There's no place like home.