Daisuke Matsuzaka turned in one of the best starts of his season the last time he pitched at Jacobs Field. He’s hoping for a repeat in this visit, and also hoping he won’t have to use any bug spray.
The teams split the first two games in Boston, setting up this pivotal contest with Matsuzaka (0-0, 5.79 ERA) on the mound for the AL East champions. He pitched a gem at Cleveland on July 24, yielding only four hits over seven innings in a 1-0 victory.
This is the first game at Jacobs Field since the Indians’ 11-inning, 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees on Oct. 5 in Game 2 of their division series. Cleveland was scoreless in that contest until a swarm of bugs rattled New York reliever Joba Chamberlain and helped allow the Indians to tie the game in the eighth inning.
“I did bring along some bug spray,” Matsuzaka joked through an interpreter. “But in terms of preparation, that’s about it.”
Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore is 4-for-8 against Matsuzaka this season.
“I’m not looking forward to facing any batter in particular, but I do know that I have to be careful with a few of them, and that includes their number one leadoff man, Sizemore, who hit off me last time,” Matsuzaka said.
The same day that the bugs swarmed Jacobs Field, the Japanese right-hander made his postseason debut against the Los Angeles Angels in Game 2 of a division series. He lasted just 4 2-3 innings and gave up three runs, but Boston went on to win the game 6-3 en route to a three-game sweep.
Matsuzaka is winless in his last five last road starts, and 0-2 with a 10.34 ERA in his last three outings away from home.
The Red Sox are hoping the day off helped stifle any momentum the Indians may have gained from their 11-inning, 13-6 victory in Game 2 on Saturday. Boston failed to score over the final five innings, managing only three hits.
“Well, there had better not be any carryover,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “That would be a horrible mistake on our part.
“That was one of the funnest games I’ve ever been a part of until the very end, and then it rapidly became a whole lot not of fun. We lost in kind of an ugly fashion at the end.”
The Indians used a seven-run 11th inning to end the 5-hour, 14-minute game. Former Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon snapped the tie with an RBI single before Franklin Gutierrez capped the outburst with a three-run homer.
It was another shaky appearance out of the Red Sox bullpen for Eric Gagne, who retired just one of the three batters he faced and was charged with the loss. Gagne had a 6.75 ERA in 20 appearances this year with Boston.
“When he first came over here, he had the gall to give up some runs in Boston,” Francona said sarcastically. “You can’t do that. My point was, it was tough for him when he first came over.”
The Red Sox have won nine of their last 12 games at Cleveland, including three of four July 23-26. The Indians, however, have won 16 of their last 19 home games, including two division series wins against the Yankees.
“I’m glad to be coming home,” lndians manager Eric Wedge said. “I’m excited about playing here in front of our fans. I’m excited that the city of Cleveland gets to watch their team play here at home for three games.”
Indians starter Jake Westbrook (0-1, 10.80) makes his second career postseason start after a shaky outing in his first one. Westbrook allowed six runs and nine hits over five-plus innings in an 8-4 loss to the Yankees last Sunday.
“Well, definitely, having already had one under my belt, especially in Yankee Stadium, it was a lot of emotion, a lot of different feelings that I’m definitely not used to having not pitched in the postseason before,” Westbrook said.
“I’m going to be a little more relaxed, but still, amped and ready to go. It’s going to be a lot of better pitching here in front of our home fans, and I’m excited and ready to go.”
The right-hander is 3-2 with a 4.81 ERA in six career outings against the Red Sox. He was tagged for five runs over six innings in a 6-2 loss to Boston on July 23.
While Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is hitless in seven career at-bats against Westbrook, left fielder Manny Ramirez is 8-for-16 in his career against him. The two Boston sluggers have combined to go 6-for-12 with seven runs scored in this series.