Daisuke Matsuzaka has helped the Boston Red Sox to wins in each of his four starts this season. He’ll try to match his career high by winning a fourth consecutive start Friday night when he takes the mound in the opener of a four-game set with the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park.
Matsuzaka (3-0, 2.70 ERA) opened the season in Japan on March 25 in outstanding fashion, allowing two runs and two hits with six strikeouts in five innings of a 6-5, 10-inning win over Oakland.
Since then, the Japanese right-hander has won three starts in a row with a 2.45 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 18 1-3 innings. He put together a career-high four straight winning starts from May 9-25, which was capped by a 10-6 victory at Texas (7-9) as he allowed five runs and seven hits with six strikeouts in five innings of his only meeting against the Rangers.
Matsuzaka, though, was shaky in his last game, giving up four runs and five hits while walking six and striking out two in five innings of an 8-5 victory over the New York Yankees on Sunday.
“It was a stressful performance from the outset,” Matsuzaka said. “I had a hard time getting strikes with all my pitches, not just the fastball.”
He looks for a better performance while helping the Red Sox (10-7) build on Thursday’s 7-5 win at New York, which gained them a split of the two-game set before entering a stretch with 13 of their next 16 games at home.
Manny Ramirez powered Thursday’s victory by going 3-for-5 with two home runs and three RBIs, improving to 12-for-24 with four homers and 10 RBIs in the last six contests. The All-Star left fielder is hitting .343 with five homers and 18 RBIs this season.
The Red Sox won six of 10 meetings with the Rangers in 2007, splitting a four-game series at Boston from June 29-July 2.
Texas is looking for a season-high three-game winning streak after completing a sweep of a two-game series at Toronto on Thursday with a 4-1 victory. That came a night after a 7-5 victory in 14 innings, which halted a five-game slide.
Rangers left fielder David Murphy, who spent parts of his first two major-league seasons with Boston, went 3-for-4 with an RBI on Thursday. He’s 6-for-14 with four doubles and two RBIs in the last three games.
“It’s safe to say that tonight was probably the best game that we’ve played together as a team so far in this short season,” Murphy said.
The Rangers hope Luis Mendoza (0-1, 1.80) can rebound from his season debut in his first game against Boston, the team that signed him out of Mexico in 2000 before trading him to Texas six years later.
The right-hander allowed four runs - one earned - and eight hits while hitting two batters and walking three more in five innings of a 4-1 loss to Toronto on Saturday.
“It was a rough night,” Mendoza said. “I struggled with my control, especially my curve ball. I had a hard time throwing first-pitch strikes.”
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