|Dice-K looks great in debut|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 06 April 2007 07:39|
Now out of Japan comes Dice-K. He seems to have it all. Just ask the Kansas City Royals, who struck out 10 times and managed only six hits in seven innings against Daisuke Matsuzaka in his first major league start.
``Any time you have that good of a fastball and the offspeed to go with it, it's tough,'' said Ryan Shealy, who struck out three times in Boston's 4-1 victory.
``He mixes up speed on his pitches and moves it in and out. You can't really get comfortable with him. I didn't know he threw that hard.''
With millions of early-risers watching on Japanese television - it was 3:10 a.m. in Tokyo when Zack Greinke threw the first pitch - Matsuzaka turned in a performance that made him happy but not entirely thrilled.
``I can't say that my overall condition was that great today, but I think the role of a starting pitcher is to set up the game and give my teammates the opportunity to win,'' he said through an interpreter. ``I feel like I was able to do that today, so I was satisfied.''
In other AL games, it was: Chicago White Sox 4, Cleveland 3; Tampa Bay 7, New York Yankees 6; and Oakland 4, Los Angeles Angels 3. Toronto's game at Detroit was postponed because of cold weather.
On a cold, blustery afternoon, Matsuzaka (1-0) allowed a sixth-inning homer by David DeJesus, and walked one. He looked every bit the ace Boston committed $103 million to.
His fastball clocked at 95 mph and his famed array of fastballs, changeups and breaking pitches at times was dazzling. Flashing a reddish-orange glove during his slow-motion windup, he retired 10 batters in a row during one stretch starting with the final out of the first inning. He struck out the side in the fourth on 14 pitches.
Even before his first meaningful major league pitch, Dice-K Mania has been in full swing.
h game of the World Series in 1985.
``Up to now, given all the expectations that have surrounded me, I've felt happy about those expectations,'' Matsuzaka said. ``But at the same time feeling like perhaps they were a little bit extreme. But speaking for myself and for all the fans that have supported me here, it's great that I was able to come out here and record a victory in my first start.''
He also proved himself adept in the field, pouncing on three weakly hit grounders and throwing one to second base to start a double play.
``He's a good pitcher,'' said the Royals' Mark Teahen. ``He throws a few off-speed pitches and throws everything for strikes. He's got a good fastball.''
Teahen, for one, was not ready to proclaim Dice-K the next Sandy Koufax.
``I don't think you can take too much from one start,'' he said. ``He threw well today. We'll see how he does.''
Kansas City manager Buddy Bell strained to think of a pitcher to compare him with.
``I will tell you this - I was pretty impressed,'' Bell said. ``He just really had a feel for what he was doing. Everything he did was absolutely solid. Everything that he tried to do.''
Matsuzaka left the Seibu Lions to sign a $52 million, six-year contract with the Red Sox, who bid $51,111,111 for his rights.
The crowd of 23,170, bundled on a 36-degree day, booed Matsuzaka in the first when he stepped behind the mound and started doing half jumping-jacks, snapping his heals together in the air.
He gave up a single to DeJesus on his third pitch and DeJesus homered on Matsuzaka's second pitch of the sixth. Estaben German followed with a single, and Matsuzaka's shoulders seemed to droop. But he finished that inning and then capped his day with a one-two-three seventh.
``Major league hitters, after you go through the order once or twice, get a bead on you, and he didn't let them,'' Boston manager Terry Francona said. He started throwing different pitches on different counts. He came back in the sixth and seventh and was good as he was early.''
Greinke (0-1), who missed almost all of last season due to social anxiety disorder, struck out seven in seven innings, allowing two runs and eight hits.
Athletics 4, Angels 3
Mike Piazza hit his first home run as a full-time designated hitter, connecting against Francisco Rodriguez with two outs in the ninth inning to lift the Athletics to the win.
Justin Duchscherer (1-0) pitched 1 2-3 innings to get the win and Huston Street got three outs for his first save.
Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson hit consecutive solo homers in the fourth for the Angels.
Devil Rays 7, Yankees 6
Alex Rodriguez flopped in another key at-bat and the Devil Rays spoiled Andy Pettitte's return to the Yankees.
Elijah Dukes hit his second homer in two major league games and Tampa Bay took the lead in the eighth inning on a wild pitch and held on for only its fourth road victory since July 1.
Rodriguez popped out against Brian Stokes with the bases loaded and the score 7-6 to end the eighth.
Ruddy Lugo (1-0) got the win and Al Reyes worked a perfect ninth for his first save since 2005 with St. Louis.
Pettitte allowed two earned runs and six hits in four innings. Luis Vizcaino (1-1) got the loss.
White Sox 4, Indians 3
At Chicago, Roberto Hernandez (0-1) hit A.J. Pierzynski with a pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, forcing in the winning run.
The White Sox got their first win of the season on a day when starter Mark Buehrle was forced out in the second inning when he was hit in the left forearm by Ryan Garko's line drive. X-rays were negative.
Bobby Jenks (1-0) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the victory.
Cleveland's Grady Sizemore hit a leadoff homer to become the first Indians player to homer in each of the first three games of the season.