51-31: Matsuzaka tosses eight innings of zero, Lugo ends hitless streak

The Red Sox took the opening game of their first series with the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday, 4-1. Daisuke Matsuzaka (10-5) had it all working and went eight innings, allowing just four hits and a walk, fanning nine Rays. He threw 122 pitches, an incredible 84 of them for strikes. He also showed off that red glove of his, making a couple of nice plays from the mound. After the game, Dice-K stated that he feels good about his last few starts, though he’s not quite where he wants to be just yet. Considering that he’s gone at least six innings in six consecutive starts without allowing more than two runs, opposing teams might be in trouble if he ever gets there.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth inning, and allowed a solo home run to former Red Sox and Boston native Carlos Pena, which ruined the shutout bid.

The Devil Rays have been mired in a batting slump of their own that surpasses the Red Sox’ slump the past few games. In the last week, they are now hitting .201/.262/.275 as a team.

The Red Sox handed lefty Scott Kazmir (5-5) a loss for just the third time out of twelve starts in the past three years. Kazmir was sharp for most of this outing, but suffered a bad second inning in which he walked the first three batters. The Sox scored three in that inning, and that was enough.

The lineup did a good job, and drew six walks on the night, not surprising for the Rays, who have issued the fourth-most walks in the AL and average 3.64 free passes per nine innings. Still, they stranded 15 baserunners, so this game could have been much more lopsided. I wouldn’t say that our hitting problems are resolved yet.

Julio Lugo, who entered the game in the midst of a 0-for-33 slump, went 2-3 against his former teammates with two RBI from the ninth spot in the order. His season batting average now stands at .194.

Coco Crisp was back in the lineup, and went 1-3 with a walk from the leadoff slot. He seemed to be okay in the field, and made a nice throw in the sixth to almost nail Akinori Iwamura. Speedy rookie Jacoby Ellsbury was a defensive replacement for Manny Ramirez late in the game, but did not come to the plate.


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