(Bad) Luck of the DrawIt seems our boy keeps getting the bad draw when it comes to opposing team's aces. The Indians figure to be a tough team to beat on any given night, but especially when their hefty lefty is on the hill. C.C. Sabathia has always been a top quality pitcher, but has really come into his own the last two seasons. Fortunately for the Red Sox, Sabathia is coming off two horrible starts and hasn't looked at all effective in July. If that trend continues, the Sox will jump on him early and often and Matsuzaka can earn himself a little cushion.
The Sox haven't seen C.C. this year, and only got him once in 2006. Sabathia went 8 strong, giving up a single run on a homer by Mark Loretta. Things could get ugly in this situation for the Tribe, as the Sox are among the best teams in the sport at mashing lefties. Boston hits home runs at slightly better than the league average rate against southpaws and hold an impressive .816 OPS against them.
Matsuzaka hasn't pitched well in July after a great June. Things seem to spin out of control when he begins his nightly foray into wasted pitches. It's been common to see Daisuke get ahead 0-2 and 1-2 on batters and then throw pitches above eye level and outside. No one is going to swing at those pitches. The key, as is always the case, will be for Matsuzaka to remain efficient against a team that is 4th in the Major Leagues in on base percentage and scores at a clip only rivaled by the Phillies, Tigers, Red Sox, and Yankees. Can he put together enough control to overwhelm the powerful Indians lineup?
I'm going to predict that Sabathia is lights out early but falters somewhere in the 6th or 7th inning. Matsuzaka will give up some early runs in this game and settle down late. The key will be Boston's ability to score given the chance against a tiring Sabathia and steal victory from the jaws of defeat.