Boston went 23-6 with Matsuzaka (1-3, 7.17 ERA) on the mound in 2008, when he led the team with 18 victories and had the lowest ERA (2.90) of the rotation. The Red Sox (33-23) lost his first four starts this season, however, during which the right-hander had an 8.82 ERA. He also spent time on the disabled list last month with right arm fatigue.
After the early frustration, Matsuzaka was good enough in his last outing to record his first win. He allowed one run and six hits while striking out six over five innings of a 5-1 victory over Detroit on Tuesday. He still hasn’t pitched through the sixth inning this season.
“For a starting pitcher, getting that first win is important - it feels like the beginning of the season,” he said. “I was able to pitch well with runners on base.”
Matsuzaka, who is 3-0 with a 4.15 ERA against the Rangers, is following a stellar outing by Jon Lester(notes) in Saturday’s 8-1 victory over Texas (32-23) - Boston’s fifth win in six games. The left-hander took a perfect game into the seventh inning and ended up throwing a two-hitter as the Red Sox moved a half-game ahead of the New York Yankees for the AL East lead.
“That’s how you get back to hitting balls and start hitting well, put a good swing on a ball,” Ortiz said. “Even though you don’t get the good luck, it will come.”
Ortiz, hitting .196 this season and dropped to sixth in the lineup last week, is 6 for 21 (.286) with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs in his last five games.
The designated hitter will try to further boost his average when he faces Vicente Padilla(notes) (3-3, 5.57), who will take the mound for Texas on Sunday. Ortiz is 4 for 12 with two doubles and two home runs against the right-hander.
Padilla will try to bounce back after one of his worst starts of the season. He gave up seven runs and seven hits over 3 2-3 innings of a 12-3 loss to the New York Yankees on Tuesday. He walked four and hit two batters in his first start since May 16, having been on the disabled list with a strained shoulder.
Padilla is 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA as a starter against the Red Sox but hasn’t faced them since 2007.
The AL West-leading Rangers have lost four of six while giving up 36 runs, but they still have a chance Sunday to win a series at Fenway for the first time since 1997.