MLB NOTEBOOK Boston expects real Matsuzaka


first_imgMatsuzaka was still staring into his locker more than an hour after his Game 3 loss, barely moving except to clasp his fingers behind his neck and cup his chin in his left hand. But he was smiling and playing long toss in the outfield during Friday’s workout day. And he has his success on the big stage to fall back on. “Whether or not we had won or lost, immediately following the game is a very important time period for me,” he said. “Although I might have appeared very upset, I wasn’t as upset as everybody thought.” He threw 250 pitches to win a 17-inning game in Japan’s Koshien high school tournament. He played on his country’s Olympic teams in 2000 and 2004. Then in March 2006, he was the MVP of the first World Baseball Classic, a tournament with star pitchers such as Jake Peavy, Carlos Zambrano and Johan Santana. “I can’t make a simple comparison to those other games,” Matsuzaka said, “but I just hope that I can pitch the same way as I did in those other opportunities.” His late-season struggles have him on a short leash should he falter in Game 7. Josh Beckett would likely relieve on short rest – he threw four innings of relief for Florida against the Chicago Cubs in the seventh game of the 2003 NLCS. Beckett had won Game 5 – just as he would do for the Red Sox this year – and came back on two days rest to throw 45 pitches against the Cubs. Pitch imperfect That’s Fausto, as in oust-o. And like one of their supposed aces, the Cleveland Indians could soon be kicked out of the postseason. Maybe they should be. Because the pitiful-playing squad that showed up Saturday night for Game 6 of the AL Championship Series at Fenway Park doesn’t deserve to go anywhere else this October but home. Fausto Carmona, Cleveland’s No. 1A starter, couldn’t get past the third inning and the Indians, once in control of this series, missed their second chance at securing a spot in the World Series with their 12-2 loss Saturday night. Fenway Park and it’s rabid fans closed in on Carmona, and now he and the Indians are in a series as tight as can be. “That was a tough one,” third baseman Casey Blake said. “But I think we’re fine. It’s kind of do or die for both teams. Fortunately, the series isn’t over. What happened out there has to be water off a duck’s back.” The Indians were bad, and then some. Instead of clinching a sixth trip to the Series – and first since 1997 – they looked more like the fictional version of themselves from the film “Major League.” Was that Willie Mays Hayes and Roger Dorn out there? By the third inning, Aaron Laffey was on the mound for Cleveland. Laffey, indeed. The Indians made two errors – on consecutive plays – and Travis Hafner went 0-for-4 and is now batting .130 (3-for-23) with 10 strikeouts, eight in the past three games. The way Hafner’s flailing, you’d think Cleveland’s DH was covered with those infamous midges off Lake Erie. Just like fellow 19-game winner C.C. Sabathia in Game 5, Carmona failed to get the job done, and now the Indians need Jake Westbrook to bail them out in Game 7 or they’ll join that long list of Cleveland sports teams who collapsed with a championship at their fingertips. Rockies’ Cook wants in Aaron Cook pronounced himself ready to return to the Colorado Rockies rotation after pitching a simulated game Saturday. Whether the Rockies decide to add him to their World Series roster is still uncertain. Cook hasn’t pitched in a major league game since Aug. 10, sidelined by a strained muscle in his side, and had mixed results against the Rockies’ regulars. He walked the first two batters he faced and surrendered a home run to Kaz Matsui. Cook, who faced 16 batters and allowed four hits, didn’t see his performance in the simulated game as an audition for the playoff roster. “No, I feel like I’ve done enough to audition,” Cook said. “I was the opening-day starter this year. I’ve been in the organization 12 years now. So, today is just going out there and proving that I’m still healthy.” The Rockies, who successfully reinserted Willy Taveras into the lineup for the NLCS, are contemplating adding Cook to the rotation and bumping rookie Franklin Morales to the bullpen. That would give Manager Clint Hurdle a third left-handed reliever to go with Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Fuentes. The odd man out in all this would be reliever Taylor Buchholz, who hasn’t pitched in the playoffs yet. The Rockies decided against adding Cook to the roster for the last round, a decision that Hurdle called the toughest of his managerial career. Hurdle said the Rockies have to guard against an emotional decision. Cook has been in the organization longer than anybody on the roster except Todd Helton and made a comeback after developing life-threatening blood clots in his lungs during a game against the Cincinnati Reds three years ago.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.“I’m going into (tonight) very excited,” he said through a translator after Boston’s 12-2 win in Game 6 Saturday night. Matsuzaka was a sensation at the start of the season after the Red Sox spent $51,111,111 to acquire his rights from the Seibu Lions, then signed him to a $52 million, six-year contract. But he faded late and lasted just 42/3 innings in each of his two postseason starts: a 6-3 win over the Angels in Game 2 of the AL Division Series and a 4-2 loss in Game 3 against the Indians and Westbrook. “I haven’t seen him come up small in a huge game yet in his career,” Curt Schilling said after getting Saturday night’s win. “I believe, based on his makeup, based on his demeanor tonight, he’s going to do something special.” Westbrook took Cleveland’s only loss as the Indians beat the New York Yankees, 3-1, in the first round. “The momentum will be with both starting pitchers,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “What happened tonight won’t dictate anything tomorrow.” From news services Dice-K never pitched in a game this big. The $103 million pitcher takes the mound for Boston tonight in Game 7 against Cleveland and Jake Westbrook, with the Red Sox trying to cap their comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the AL Championship Series. Daisuke Matsuzaka starred in big games in Japan, even pitched a no-hitter in his national high school championship game. Now he can pitch the Red Sox back into the World Series. last_img

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