Daisuke Matsuzaka - Topps Heritage 2010

Who is this man, and what has he done with Daisuke Matsuzaka?

It’s no secret that I find Daisuke Matsuzaka to be perhaps the most maddening player I’ve ever seen play for the Red Sox.

Without getting into the salary ramifications of his presence on the club, watching him pitch is usually an excruciating experience, even when he wins. One friend of mine compared it to slowly bleeding to death. Another actually gave Sox tickets away once when he learned Daisuke was scheduled to start. He’s slow, he walks everyone, he loads the bases seemingly every inning, he nibbles the corners even on the worst hitters, and his games regularly clock in at over six hours, according to my internal clock.

So how did this happen?

6.2 innings pitched, 6 strikeouts, 2 walks, 89 pitches total. Time of game – 2:40.

When Red Sox announcer Don Orsillo noted that he’d only thrown 71 pitches before the seventh inning, I almost fell off the couch. It was incredible.

What makes Matsuzaka so frustrating is just how long all of his games are, and how few innings he logs. Sure, he has the occasional gem, but they pale in comparison to the duds.

Let’s take a quick look at his game logs this year:

  • May 1, at Baltimore: 5.2 IP, 6 ER, 4K, 3 BB, 95 pitches
  • May 6, vs. Los Anaheim: 5.1 IP, 5 ER, 3 K, 3 BB, 92 pitches
  • May 11, vs. Toronto: 7 IP, 1 ER, 9 K, 0 BB, 106 pitches
  • May 17, at N.Y. Yankees: 4.2 IP, 7 ER, 3 K, 3 BB, 105 pitches
  • May 22, at Philadelphia: 8 IP, 0 ER, 5 K, 4 BB, 112 pitches
  • June 2, vs. Oakland: 6.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 K 0 BB, 109 pitches
  • June 7, at Cleveland: 8 IP, 0 ER, 5 K, 2 BB, 112 pitches
  • June 24, at Colorado: 5 IP, 2 ER, 6 K, 4 BB, 105 pitches
  • June 30, vs. Tampa Bay: 6 IP, 3 ER, 7 K, 4 BB, 111 pitches
  • July 5, at Tampa Bay: 5 IP, 4 ER, 4 K, 4 BB, 112 pitches
  • July 11, at Toronto: 6 IP, 2 ER, 5 K, 0 BB, 88 pitches
  • And then last night’s game.

You know what? Maybe that brilliant start isn’t so weird. In compiling that list, I was amazed to find three different starts where he didn’t walk a batter. All that sticks out in my memory are the sore thumbs.

Maybe he’s more brilliant than I realized. He was just brilliant a little more quickly than usual. And maybe, if we’re lucky, he’s finally hit his stride after two seasons in the wilderness, and will be the pitcher we all saw dominate the international field.

For the sake of all baseball viewers, let’s hope so.

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