Dice-K Faces M's
The Boston Red Sox finally snapped their seven-game road losing streak Monday night. Given who's on the mound Tuesday, their chances of stringing two wins together appear good.
The Red Sox attempt to remain perfect in Daisuke Matsuzaka's starts this season when they continue their three-game series at Safeco Field against the slumping Seattle Mariners.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Boston -183 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 75% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston -183 (View MLB Bet Percentages).
Boston (32-22) had dropped seven straight road games entering this series - including a three-game sweep at Oakland to open its current West Coast trip - but got well in Monday night's series opener, winning 5-3 to hand Seattle its seventh consecutive loss overall. The Red Sox broke open a tie game with a four-run eighth inning off Mariners starter Felix Hernandez.
"It's satisfying to shake hands again. We've had our share of ... frustrating losses,'' Boston manager Terry Francona said. "To string together enough to give us a little wiggle room was good and we needed it.''
Regardless of the venue, Boston has played well all season with Matsuzaka (8-0, 2.40 ERA) on the mound, winning all 10 of his starts. Even when the right-hander hasn't been at the top of his game, such as last Thursday when he gave up three runs, six hits and walked six in 5 2-3 innings of an 11-8 victory over Kansas City, his teammates have picked him up and allowed him to win.
"I'm very grateful that I've been given the chance to get these wins under these circumstances,'' Matsuzaka, who is seeking to match teammate Josh Beckett's 9-0 start from last season, said through a translator.
Lack of control and high pitched counts have hindered Matsuzaka. He's averaging an AL-high 4.10 pitches per batter, and has issued four walks or more in five of his 10 outings.
Matsuzaka, though, is the rare Boston player who has been excellent on the road, going 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA and a .148 opponent batting average in four outings away from Fenway Park.
He was 1-1 with a 4.33 ERA in four starts versus Seattle in 2007 - his first major-league season - but dominated fellow Japanese star Ichiro Suzuki. The Seattle right fielder went 1-for-12 with two walks and three strikeouts versus Matsuzaka.
Mariners catcher and Japanese countryman Kenji Johjima experienced better success against Matsuzaka, going 3-for-9 with two doubles in their matchups.
Seattle right-hander Miguel Batista (3-6, 6.47) has struggled along with his team in 2008, yielding four runs or more in six of his 10 starts.
Batista lost for the fourth time in five decisions Thursday, when he gave up five runs - four earned - and seven hits in three innings of a 9-2 defeat at Detroit.
"I'm not very happy with the way I pitched,'' Batista said. "It's very hard to explain, because my command was better than my last start, and I was throwing hard."
Batista is 4-5 with a 6.20 ERA in 17 career appearances, including eight starts, versus Boston.
The Mariners (18-34) now own sole possession of the worst record in the majors. Monday's loss dropped them to 1-5 in games tied after seven innings.
"There is some encouragement, but we are just looking for a win,'' Seattle manager John McLaren said. "A moral victory is not what we're looking for.''
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