The surging Red Sox look for their first four-game winning streak of the season Saturday night when they try to continue their recent dominance of the Los Angeles Angels.
Boston (8-11) lost all six road games on its season-opening trip, but is now playing more like the club it expected to be when it broke camp. The Red Sox dropped the opener of this nine-game trip to fall to a franchise-worst 0-7 on the road, but have since won three straight.
Matsuzaka (1-2, 6.43 ERA) felt he was pitching for his spot in the rotation Monday after posting a 12.86 ERA in losing his first two outings. The right-hander gave up a single in the first inning and issued a walk in the second before retiring his final 16 batters over seven scoreless innings in a 9-1 Patriots Day rout of Toronto.
“If I did pitch badly,” Matsuzaka said through a translator, “I thought there wouldn’t be the next chance.”
The two baserunners matched the fewest he’s allowed in 101 major league starts.
Matsuzaka is 2-1 with a 6.06 ERA in three regular-season starts against the Angels. His lone major league start in Anaheim came in a 2008 AL division series. He also threw five scoreless innings at Angel Stadium for Japan to earn a victory over Mexico in the 2006 World Baseball Classic en route to winning MVP honors.
Boston’s starters have allowed no more than two earned runs in any of the last seven games, posting a 1.19 ERA during that stretch. Jon Lester(notes) pitched six scoreless innings in Friday’s 4-3 win.
“I remember back about the middle of that homestand, somebody asked me: ‘What’s the best way to get it going?”’ Boston manager Terry Francona said. “And I said, ‘A time or two through the rotation and have them give us a chance every night.’ And that’s exactly what’s happened.”
The Red Sox have captured the first two games of this four-game set to improve to 11-1 against Los Angeles (12-8) since being swept in a 2009 AL division series.
Boston has won six of seven overall, but may have to rest some weary relievers Saturday. Bobby Jenks(notes) and closer Jonathan Papelbon(notes) have pitched in each game of the three-game winning streak.
“Yeah, I’ll play (Saturday), for sure,” Youkilis told the Red Sox’s official website. “No doubt.”
The Angels have 16 strikeouts and five walks in this series. The Red Sox have been more patient with 17 walks and 18 strikeouts.
Los Angeles starter Ervin Santana(notes) (0-2, 5.26) has done a good job of limiting walks, allowing 2.5 per nine innings, but he’s still seeking his first win. The right-hander yielded season highs of six runs and 10 hits over four-plus innings Monday in a 7-1 loss at Texas.
“I don’t think overall he was locked in, but he wasn’t far off,” manager Mike Scioscia said.
Santana is 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA in eight career regular-season starts against the Red Sox, including 1-0 with a 3.55 ERA in two at home. David Ortiz(notes) is 7 for 23 with two homers and 10 strikeouts versus Santana.