Monday, June 6, 2011

Growing Up With Daisuke Matsuzaka

I remember the day in December 2006. I was only 9 years old, and had payed attention to the Red Sox during the 2004 playoffs because my mom's family was from New England. My mom told me that the Red Sox had signed a really good pitcher from Japan named Daisuke Matsuzaka. I didn't know much about baseball before then, but I started playing in 2007, and I started becoming more and more interested in the Red Sox as the season went along. I remember hearing about Dice-K's debut in a Red Sox uniform on April 4, 2007. He earned the win, allowing 1 run and striking out 10 through 7 innings. However, after 2 more pretty good starts, Daisuke displayed the inconsistency he has become so famous for on April 22, 2007 against the Yankees. He earned the win, but he allowing 6 runs in 7 innings in a 7-6 win for the Red Sox. On May 3, 2007, he was shaky again, allowing 7 runs in 5 innings in an 8-7 win for the Red Sox. Dice-K wound up with a mediocre season in 2007, completely not living up to expectations by going 15-12 with a 4.40 ERA and 201 strikeouts. When it came to Playoff time in 2007, in Cleveland, after losing the 3rd game of the series to put the Sox back 2-1, he won the clinching game 7 in a 11-2 defeat of the Cleveland Indians, I remember that game. In the World Series against the Rockies, Daisuke came through, allowing 2 runs in 5+ innings to earn the win in Game 3. That was 5 years ago. In 2008, with an injury to Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka actually started Opening Day for the Red Sox on March 25, 2008. He allowed 2 runs in 5 innings in an eventual 6-5 win over Oakland. Daisuke lived up to expectations in 2008, playing very well, and making 2007 look like a bad year as he went 18-3/2.90/154 as the Red Sox went 95-67 and made it to the ALCS. As my interest in baseball and the Red Sox increased, Daisuke's stats and attributes declined. Since then, Dice-K's career has been derailed by injuries, injuring himself first in a game against Oakland in April 2009. He came back later in May, only to get injured again, as he would go an icky 4-6/5.76/54. In 2010 he suffered numerous injuries before, arguably the game I remember most about Daisuke, as on May 22, 2010, he threw 7 2/3 no-hit innings against the Phillies before a Juan Castro single broke it up in the 8th. Daisuke was ok that season, going 9-6/4.69/133. This year, Daisuke was the epitome of Daisuke, throwing 2 consecutive 1-hit gems on April 18th and 23rd against the Blue Jays and the Angels. However, those were just sandwiched by multiple bad starts that put his season stats at 3-3/5.30/26. This week, he got the news that he would have to have Tommy John surgery and would likely miss all of this season and most of 2012. Could it be the end of Dice-K's tenure with the Red Sox? Maybe. But he will go down in history as one of the most interesting players in recent years.

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