The Boston Red Sox have been getting consistent offense - and a steady stream of victories - as they recover from their disappointing start, but the club still has no idea what it is going to get from Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes).
The erratic right-hander walked eight in his most recent start, but he’ll look to recover and pitch the surging Red Sox to their fourth straight victory as they continue their three-game set with the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night.
Boston (30-23) trailed 4-0 entering the bottom of the fifth inning of Tuesday’s series opener, but scored nine unanswered runs to win for the 11th time in its last 14 games.
The Red Sox have averaged an AL-best 5.8 runs in 30 games since the start of May, and their 43 home runs in that stretch are the third-most in the majors.
Adrian Beltre(notes) began Tuesday’s comeback with a three-run homer, but catcher Victor Martinez(notes) had the club’s best offensive game, going 5 for 5 with four doubles and two RBIs. Martinez is 18 for 39 (.462) with four homers and nine doubles in his last 11 games after batting .226 before that.
“We just never quit,” Martinez said. “I’ve been in a big hole since the start of the season. But I never lost my confidence.”
Matsuzaka (3-2, 5.77 ERA) figured to enter his last start feeling good about himself after carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a 5-0 win at Philadelphia on May 22.
But he matched a career high with eight walks in 4 2-3 innings of a 4-3 loss to Kansas City on Thursday. Matsuzaka has failed to complete five innings in three of his six starts, walking 21 in 34 1-3 innings this season.
Matsuzaka held the A’s to two or fewer runs in each of his first four starts against them, going 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA in that stretch. But Oakland scored five runs in the first inning against him during their 6-5, 12-inning victory over Boston on April 14, 2009, prompting the Red Sox to place Matsuzaka on the disabled list with arm fatigue.
Sheets (2-3, 4.91) hasn’t won since May 8, but the right-hander continues to round into form after missing all of 2009 recovering from elbow surgery. He’s 1-0 with a 2.81 ERA in his last five starts, helping the A’s to four wins in that stretch.
“I’m starting to feel better,” Sheets said after holding Detroit to three runs in seven innings of Oakland’s 5-4 victory Friday. “I still feel like I’m building some stamina.”
The A’s are hoping they can stay in the AL West race for the long haul, although they allowed Texas to pull into a virtual tie for the division lead Wednesday.
They won five of their first seven on this road trip, but Tuesday’s loss was Oakland’s 11th in its last 14 games at Fenway Park. The Red Sox have won 16 of 23 at home following their 1-6 start there.