I don’t know all that much about Daisuke Matsusaka but I do know this; he needs a new nickname because Dice K just doesn’t do the trick. After all, nicknames are supposed to give some insight into a person’s character or persona and there is nothing in “Dice K” that comes remotely close to describing the yin and yang of Matsusaka. So here are a handful of alternatives: Two-Face, Schitzo, Rollercoaster, Dr. Jekyl and Centaur.
How do you explain a guy who walks EIGHT guys last Thursday and then comes out last night and throws eighty-four strikes? A week ago, he couldn’t get anyone to swing and miss at his offerings. Last night …. it happened fifteen times. It is simply becoming impossible to explain this guy’s inconsistency but the one thing that can be said is Dice is at least settling in to a predictable pattern. Because over his last six starts, Dice has a very powerful “bad/good” thing going on. Here is what I mean.
On May 6th, Dice had a very pour outing against LA but he bounced back with a gem against Toronto. That was followed by a stinker at New York and then a near no-hitter at Philly. Coming off that gem, Dice then went walk crazy last week before coming back last night and throwing a pretty solid game, particularly after a three-run first. If the pattern holds, Cleveland is set to feast this Monday.
I thought John Lackey was delusional to suggest he pitched better than his line on Tuesday but I would argue that Dice was much better last night than his numbers and game score (49). First off, Jeremy Hermida screwed him in the first, dropping an easy ball and setting Oakland up for a big inning. Granted, Hermida didn’t throw the home run pitch to Suzuki, but that inning and Dice’s line would look a lot different if Hermida had made that catch. But besides that rough first, Matsusaka was excellent, throwing first-pitch strikes, pitching to contract, and ripping off a handful of excellent breaking pitches. Ultimately, he brushed off that first inning, kept the Sox in the game and ended up giving the Sox plenty of length. And quite frankly, it was good length as he controlled that game after the first inning. And that is something that hasn’t happened since ….. well, come to think of it …. May 22nd.
* Papelbon was a bit shaky in the ninth but boy, Dan Bard was devastating once again. His appearances have been must-watch TV since early May.
* Guess Tuesday was nothing but a “bad night” as David Ortiz was right back at it last night. Fresh of winning the AL Player of the Month Award (quite deservedly), Papi had a perfect night with a double, a two-run blast and a couple of walks. The guy is now slugging .600, making it nearly impossible to sit him, even against tough lefties. Now Lowell will probably get a shot this afternoon against Brett Anderson, but folks, Ortiz has to play daily and if that is the case, Lowell has to go because the roster could use some more flexibility, especially with these two outfielders hurt and some NL road dates ahead. (More on this later.)
* Pedroia has strung together back-to-back 1-5’s and while that doesn’t look like much, it should be noted that he has been stinging some outs. The laser show isn’t quite ready to re-open but I think Pedroia might be poised to bounce.
* Anyone else notice that JD Drew has played in 51 of 54 games this year? He is on pace to blow away his career high in games and I am worried that this guy is starting to wear down and the Sox have to find him some days off. If and when Ellsbury returns, Drew is entitled to sit some tough lefties out.
* FARM REPORT: The big effort of the night belonged to Pawtucket pitcher Felix Doubront who threw two-hit ball over five and two-thirds. Felix has only thrown 12 innings of AAA ball but he is off to a fast start with Pawtucket and his name is now in the mix if the Sox need another starter at some point. Hopefully, Doubront won’t be needed anytime soon but with each strong start, Doubront is inching closer and closer to Boston.
* Today, it’s Wake against Brett Anderson. This one sure doesn’t look too good on paper, especially when one considers what Anderson did to Boston last season. But Wakefield has been pretty good against Oakland and he rarely has back-to-back stinkers. So I expect him to pitch alright today. The question will be whether the lineup, perhaps less Ortiz, can scratch out some runs against a tough lefty. Youk, the stage is yours.