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Dice-K serves 'em up

Dice-K serves 'em up
Daisuke Matsuzaka had limited knowledge of the three Tampa Bay Rays free swingers that derailed his 2009 season debut in yesterday's 4-3 Red Sox loss at Fenway Park.

Matsuzaka had never faced Tampa Bay backup catcher Shawn Riggans, and the right-hander had come up against Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and center fielder Matt Joyce a total of four times. Advantage: Tampa Bay.

Riggans, Longoria and Joyce all homered off the Sox starter as the Rays built a 4-0 lead through four innings. Over his 5 1/3 innings and 101 pitches, Matsuzaka was also tagged for three doubles among the nine hits he allowed, to go along with three walks and a wild pitch.

Matsuzaka, who did register five strikeouts, saw his career record vs. the Rays drop to 2-4 in nine starts.

``You know, the mistakes really hurt him,'' manager Terry Francona said. ``Threw a breaking ball - (to) Longoria - that caught too much of the plate. I know there were baserunners in between, a lot of them, but that (giving up the home runs) was their runs. There were nine hits, three walks (and) that's a lot of baserunners. Sometimes when there's baserunners, you start pitching toward the game and not giving in. So maybe sometimes one thing can lead to another.''

Joyce was the first to leave the yard, in the second inning, when the lefty hitter got all of a 1-2 fastball and deposited it into the right field bleachers three rows behind the visitors bullpen. With one on in the third inning, Longoria sent the breaking ball Francona referred to into the Monster seats. Riggans went the other way with a 1-1 pitch and sent it into the Red Sox bullpen in the fourth for the Rays' final run.

Matsuzaka insisted he was adequately schooled in all three hitters' tendencies before he took the mound.

``I always receive the scouting information and it's really up to me to execute the game plan and sometimes I'm not able to do that,'' Matsuzaka said through Japanese interpreter Masa Hoshino. ``On a day like today, I feel apologetic to our scouts.''

Matsuzaka had enough command of his pitches to escape troubling situations in the third, fourth and fifth innings. When he departed with one out and one on in the sixth inning, the Red Sox still trailed 4-0.

``The reason I struggled out there today was that I didn't have any life on my fastball,'' Matsuzaka said. ``Of course I had some command issues in some key situations, but above all else I didn't have any life on my fastball.''

Said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon: ``We talked before the game and wanted (him) to pitch with his offspeed stuff when he got behind in the count. I just thought we worked good at-bats and we made him work. . . . We saw a lot of pitches and worked some good at-bats (and) hit a couple of homers. But primarily, we just made him work for his outs.''


Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 11, 2009

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