67-43: Matsuzaka, bullpen hold off Mariners 4-3

The Red Sox claimed the second game of this series at Safeco Field, 4-3.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (13-8) pitched a strong seven innings, allowing just two runs and fanning ten batters, but he continues to have problem innings. In the bottom of the third he hit Jose Lopez, then allowed a single by Yuniesky Betancourt. With no outs, two men on and Ichiro Suzuki at the plate, it could have turned ugly, but he managed to get Suzuki to ground into a fielder’s choice after a ten pitch at-bat. Even though Seattle managed to load the bases right after, he struck out Jose Guillen and made Raul Ibanez fly out to end the threat. Dice-K has definitely shown his ability to work out of tough jams. That’s great, but it’d be nice if we could avoid them altogether. Seattle stranded 21 men in this one. Ouch.

Matsuzaka has some great toughness and is willing to challenge hitters in any situation and any count. I believe that he will eventually become the ace of our staff, though it may take another year or two. Thanks to the foresight of the front office, we have an amazing acquisition and quite possibly the AL rookie of the year.

Eighth inning, 4-2 Boston lead. It wasn’t the 1-2 punch we’ve gotten used to all year, but Eric Gagne this time. Gagne didn’t look his best, allowing one run on three hits, but he was more than adequate. I’m not worried. Jonathan Papelbon came on and sealed it for his 25th save of the year.

Jason Varitek‘s two-run double in the 4th gave the Sox the lead, and impressively, Manny Ramirez scored all the way from first base. David Ortiz and Manny  did their share to extend the lead in the 6th. For the second straight game, the Sox failed to draw more than two walks. I guess they decided to be aggressive against the Seattle staff. They also failed to touch the Seattle bullpen, which pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings, recording six strikeouts, walking no one and allowing just two hits.


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