A day after learning they would be without one of their stars from their last two World Series championship teams for the rest of the year, the Boston Red Sox will get back their winningest pitcher from this season.
Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to be activated from the disabled list to make his first start in nearly a month Saturday as the Red Sox continue their three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Matsuzaka (8-0, 2.53 ERA) opened the 2008 season in brilliant fashion, helping Boston (46-30) won his first 10 starts.
In his 11th appearance, however, the right-hander was injured when reaching for an off-line throw from Sean Casey while covering first base May 27 in Seattle.
Matsuzaka came out for warmups to start the following inning, but left when he felt discomfort. He was placed on the DL three days later with a strained rotator cuff. At the time of his injury, Matsuzaka led the league in wins and was third in opponent batting average (.195).
The Red Sox lost Matsuzaka’s most recent appearance to remain a half-game behind AL East-leading Tampa Bay, but have won 14 of 21 since to move 1 1/2 games ahead of the Rays atop the division.
Matsuzaka had an encouraging rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday, his first game since the injury. He allowed two runs, three hits, struck out five and threw 47 of his 65 pitches for strikes in five innings.
“I don’t know what percent I’m at, but I’m ready to pitch again,” Matsuzaka said through a translator.
Matsuzaka is still trying to match teammate Josh Beckett’s 9-0 start from last season, and has had little trouble facing the NL, going 4-1 with a 1.60 ERA in five interleague starts. He gave up two unearned runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-3 home win over Milwaukee on May 17.
Matsuzaka has posted a 1.25 ERA in winning his three interleague starts at Fenway Park, and is 5-0 with a 2.48 ERA in six home outings this season.
The Red Sox lost Friday’s series opener 5-4 in the Cardinals’ first game at Fenway since Curt Schilling pitched Boston to a 6-2 victory in Game 2 of the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox swept St. Louis (43-22) and swept Colorado to win last year’s title, as Schilling was instrumental in both postseason runs.
Schilling, who hasn’t pitched in 2008, announced Friday he will have season-ending right shoulder surgery on Monday.
The Cardinals’ win Friday came after they were swept at home by Kansas City.
Skip Schumaker hit a two-run homer and is 11-for-31 (.355) with three home runs and four RBIs in his last seven games.
Although they snapped their skid, the Cardinals lost another player to injury as shortstop Cesar Izturis was replaced by Brendan Ryan in the bottom of the fourth after straining his right hamstring. St. Louis, which is already without six-time All-Star Albert Pujols, will likely be without Izturis for a while.
“I’m very pessimistic about hamstrings,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “It could be a week, 10 days before he returns.”
Mitchell Boggs (1-0, 5.56) makes his third career start Saturday for St. Louis.
After allowing two runs and four hits in five innings of a 7-2 win over Cincinnati on June 10 for his first career victory, the right-hander gave up four runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 7-6, 10-inning loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.