Monday, July 14, 2008
SOX BACK WHERE THEY BELONG... FIRST PLACE
Daisuke Matsuzaka's 10th win propelled the Red Sox back into first place yesterday afternoon.
It seems as though Daisuke may have figured out how to be a successful pitcher in America. He just walks everybody. Last year he only walked 80 batters. In half as many starts so far in '08, he's already issued 57 free passes. It's counter-intuitive, but the walks seem to be helping. He's given up far fewer hits (opponents hitting .220 this season compared to .246 last season), and more importantly: fewer extra base hits. Last year, he allowed a .405 slugging percentage, this year it's .339. He yielded 25 homers in 2007, he's on pace to allow 10 in '08.
How can walks help a pitcher do better? Well, that old expression about walks being as good as hits isn't exactly true. A walk is not as good as a double. And two walks in a row aren't the same as two singles in a row.
But there's been a problem, and the walks are a direct cause of it. He doesn't go deep into games. He's only made three starts of 7+ innings this year. And only 7 of his 17 starts have seen him pitch 6+ innings. He's averaging 5.5 innings per start. And with this team's bullpen, that can cause massive problems.
Daisuke leaving early nearly caused some problems yesterday. Hideki Okajima relieved Daisuke in the 7th and struggled mightily. He faced 4 batters. Two of them walked. He threw 17 pitches, only 5 for strikes. Thankfully Delcarmen bailed him out of the jam.
Youkilis left the game in the 6th with a "left tricep contusion." He was hit by a pitch. He's not expected to miss any time with the Sox.
The Spoorting News
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer