The Boston Red Sox’s offense allowed the team’s pitching staff more than enough room for error over the weekend. The Red Sox hope to give Daisuke Matsuzaka similar support on Tuesday after falling short in the pitcher’s last start.
The Japanese right-hander takes the mound Tuesday for the opener of a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Matsuzaka (1-1, 2.57 ERA) suffered his first major league loss last Wednesday, despite giving up just three runs over seven solid innings against Seattle in his Fenway Park debut. Mariners ace Felix Hernandez threw a one-hitter to send Matsuzaka and the Red Sox to a 3-0 defeat.
“I think we’re hyping him up so much that when he gives up three runs, it’s like, ‘Oh my God.’ I think he did a pretty good job,” Boston third baseman Mike Lowell said of Matsuzaka. “Three runs over seven innings, I’ll take that.”
After dropping that contest against Seattle, Boston (7-4) recovered in a big way, outscoring the Los Angeles Angels 25-3 in a three-game sweep which concluded with a 7-2 victory in Monday’s annual Patriots Day game at Fenway.
“It shows what our offense is capable of,” said Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, who improved to 3-0 by earning the win Monday.
Beckett and fellow Boston starters Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield combined to allow just two runs and 15 hits over 21 innings against the Angels, continuing an excellent beginning to the season for the Red Sox rotation. Boston starting pitchers are riding a streak of six consecutive quality starts, with the team winning five of those games, and have a collective 2.51 ERA in 2007.
Designated hitter David Ortiz was a major factor in the series, going 6-for-12 with two doubles, two homers - including a solo shot Monday - and eight RBI in the three victories. Ortiz has 26 homers - his second-most against any opponent - in 95 games against the Blue Jays (7-5). He also has 17 home runs in just 181 lifetime at-bats at Rogers Centre.
Ortiz is 5-for-16 (.313) with two homers in his career against Toronto starter Gustavo Chacin (1-0, 4.91 ERA), who will try to continue his success against the Red Sox in the series opener.
Chacin is 5-0 in seven career starts versus Boston, tying him with Greg Maddux for the most wins without a loss against the Red Sox among active pitchers. The right-hander has posted a pedestrian 4.29 ERA and .292 opponent batting average in the seven outings, but has benefited from a 9.59 run support average.
Chacin earned his first win of the season last Wednesday, allowing three runs over five innings of a 7-4 victory over Kansas City.
The Blue Jays split four games with Detroit over the weekend, but those results were overshadowed by the team’s injury woes as Toronto placed closer B.J. Ryan, third baseman Troy Glaus and left fielder Reed Johnson on the disabled list.
Ryan will miss four-to-six weeks with an sprained ligament in his throwing elbow, somewhat of a relief after Dr. James Andrews didn’t find any tears in an examination at Birmingham, Ala.
“That’s probably what we expected, maybe we expected a little worse,” Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. “He’ll work with our trainers and we’ll reassess where he’s at in four weeks.”
Glaus, who was batting .333 with two homers and five RBIs, is sidelined with a bone spur in his left heel and a sore hamstring. Johnson is scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday to repair a herniated disc in his lower back.
Toronto has won its last two season series with Boston, going 23-14 against the Red Sox over than span including a 13-6 mark at Rogers Centre.